New Orleans Before complacency sets in and you pinch yourself and say, “Hey, I’m feeling ok, I can make it some more years, so if they cave in and let the Republicans raise the retirement age, maybe it’s no big deal,” you need to pinch yourself harder where you keep your wallet or pocketbook and remember that those extra years really may be a matter of little more than how much money you have. A story recently by Michael Fletcher in the Washington Post brought the numbers all back home.
All of the talk about how we’re living longer so we should shore up Social Security by stretching out the retirement age is based on a myopic view of class status. Listen to this:
“’People who are shorter-lived tend to make less, which means that if you raise the retirement age, low-income populations would be subsidizing the lives of higher-income people. Whenever I hear a policymaker say people are living longer as a justification for raising the retirement age, I immediately think they don’t understand the research or, worse, they are willfully ignoring what the data say.’” Maya Rockeymoore, Global Policy Solutions.
The Social Security Administration in a fairly recent study Fletcher cited found that life expectancy for male workers had gone up 6 years in the top half of the income brackets but only up 1.3 years in the bottom half. In the last 30 years as income inequity has accelerated the gap in life expectancy based on income, according to the Congressional Budget Office, has risen from 2.8 years to 4.5 years for the rich.
Eric Kingston of Syracuse University and co-chair of Social Security Works, which opposes reducing the old-age benefits, makes the great point that the income gap of life expectancy it “…would mean a benefit cut that falls heavily on people who generally are most reliant on Social Security for their retirement income.” He added unnecessarily, “It is totally class-based.” Amen!
In fact according to Health Affairs, Fletcher cites the fact that “in half of the nation’s counties, women younger than 75 are dying at rates higher than before.” This is true particularly of lower income white women, and women in the rural South and West, where poorer women are getting worked too hard and hung up wet.
When the subject is Social Security, the pencil pushers working for the richer “haves” are literally killing us at the lead point of their budget discussions. This is neither right, nor fair, to working people in America who should have the right to retire with the same dignity that they tried to live.