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Reader Poll: Proposal to Lower Retirement Age

This article was written by in Career and Work. 18 comments.


Dennis Kucinich is floating a proposal around the Senate which would create a six-month period in which anyone age 60 can retire voluntarily and receive partial Social Security benefits. This is a $15 billion bill funded by the bailout and stimulus. Kucinich estimates that by offering retirement two years early, a million workers will leave their jobs, creating opportunities for those actively looking for work.

Although the plan sounds good in theory, I’m not convinced it would work in practice.

Right now, it’s unlikely that this proposal will become a law. Congress is working on a different set of ideas to stimulate job growth. Employment has traditionally been the last aspect of the economy to improve during a recession, but some experts predict it will be many years before employment levels return to previous levels. Some people may find themselves without expense-sustaining income for years.

Do you believe lowering the voluntary retirement age for six months would help improve employment conditions?

Published or updated February 22, 2010. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar SteveDH

Heaven’s no. Who would take this? Only people who are prepared to retire at 60 would benefit from this and then it would just be a hand-out. Maybe a few who are close but not ready to be financially retired could be pushed into retirement but their risks could be high.
Just a little off topic but close: The President’s “new” Healthcare Plan includes adding Medicare taxes to Investment Income. Retirees who may have planned their retirement around the big three (Pension/SocSec/Savings) might be giving up some of their retirement income to Medicare Taxes. Not a very encouraging picture of retirement for either the young guns or those approaching their “golden years”.

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avatar Don

This is not the right approach. He is just taking our stimulus money that should be returned to us and paying people to leave their job. I think it would be better if he spent the $15 Billion on small businesses so they could create real jobs.

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avatar Financial Samurai

Huh? Last I heard, we can all retire TOMORROW if we wanted to. Is there a stealth group out there being held captive by some evil man who is telling them they can’t retire?

Why do we need $15 billion to tell people they can retire at 60? Why doesn’t the gov’t just get on social media sites and spread the word? “Hey! You can retire now guys! No more handcuffs for you!”

So long a sthe US$15 billion is used to buy me a nice beach front property, I’m all for it!

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,495 (Platinum)

You can retire any time you want but you can’t collect partial Social Security benefits until 62. This proposal would change that for six months. The $15 billion goes to paying out additional benefits.

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avatar Financial Samurai

Forget it. Benefits need to be CUT, since the liability right now is more than the income taken in.

6 months isn’t going to make a difference.

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avatar jim

It would cut unemployment a small amount. There are undoubtedly 60 or 61 year old people working just until they get to age 62 when they can qualify for social security. If you let those people retire 1-2 years early then they’ll do so. That will (theoretically) free up a job vacancy that a currently unemployed person could step into.

Assuming that 2 million people would quit work seems ridiculously high to me. Theres only about 8M people age 60-64 who work. I assume most of those people wouldn’t quit work early just for a chance at early SS. Half of them are already working past age of SS eligibility.
But I’d bet theres 100k to 200k people working at age 60-61 who would quit work to take early SS if offered.

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avatar David C

I thought this was one of the underlying strategies for Social Security when initially created back during the Great Depression… of course life expectancy was less back then, so the budget impact isn’t as large.

I have no doubt though that it would cost more than 15 billion USD.

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avatar Edwin

While this may add a few jobs, there are far more efficient ways to spend the money for job growth. Also, people who think they can retire just because of some early social security benefits are sadly mistaken. You can’t live off those benefits alone so not only would they be spending less time increasing their nest egg but they will also be using it quicker, making it far more likely that they run out of money before they die.

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avatar Juggler314

This is the worst thing imaginable. SS is broken as is and the whole reason it is broken is that the age to start receiving benefits was never indexed to average lifespan. When SS was first put into place, most people did not live past 65 (ironically the very first SS recipient lived much longer than that). Had they simply said that the age to receive benefits should rise along with life expectancy, we’d all be able to count on some real SS income (albeit much later in life). It was never meant as a crutch for a retirement in style, it was meant to keep old, infirm people from dying of starvation.

You are, of course, free to argue that part of living in a nice first world country is that retirement should get better as the country develops, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of the younger generation (which is how it is working now).

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avatar Randy

Just yesterday I was listening to a radio program that suggested RAISING the retirement age. I had to read this post twice to make sure I was reading it correctly.

This is ludicrous.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,495 (Platinum)

Yeah, there seems to be two competing priorities: making the Social Security fund last longer by reducing benefits, and improving the current unemployment situation.

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avatar Brandon

I could imagine Dennis Kucinich catching some hell from a ton of 58-59 year olds who would miss this 6 month window.

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avatar Hildebrand, The Insurance Warden

Let’s don’t refer to the age when a government instituted scam starts paying out as something so generic as the “retirement age.” Retirement occurs when an individual has accumulated enough assets to provide for the remainder of his or her mortality.

Let’s also not begin paying out from this Social Security scam any younger, else the funds taken from us during our productive years will have to increase. With life expectancies climbing all the while for the past sixty years, it is scarcely feasible to start funding others’ retirements younger and younger. What we’re doing is paying for others’ sense of entitlement and bad planning.

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avatar Sean Gallagher

Yeah, I don’t see that working. First of all, we’ve got the Boomers reaching retirement age right now, and there are enough of them to sink Social Security all on their own. Letting people start collecting on Social Security a few years earlier isn’t going to help that. Also, Social Security is a fraction of what most people need to get by on.

What they *should* do is make it possible for people already on Social Security to work more without being penalized. People leaving the workforce doesn’t create new jobs–more economic activity does.

As somebody who’s basically starting his retirement planning all over again after making the transition to self-employment as an “accidental entrepreneur”, I’m figuring I’ll be working well into my 60s and beyond just to make ends meet and get my kids through college. My retirement plan is to never stop working. If Social Security could make it possible for me to downshift a little, and still make a meaningful contribution to society, I’d get behind that. But I don’t even see Social Security being around by the time I retire with the glut of retirees looming on the horizon.

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avatar jay

I doubt it, of course we all want to retire early but I dont think the retirement system can afford this.

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avatar fatboymikey

Sounds like all of you that have commented thus far would benefit greatly from some additional education in economics and simple math. The lack of education in these general areas in the United States is, of course, exactly why you are all in this mess to begin with.

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avatar Juggler314

It’s fascinating that you would comment like that yet not say even one word about what you mean. If you can make me believe that SS as it is currently administered is not broken go for it.

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avatar vivian degaetano

I think this is a good idea for two reasons- it is voluntary, only those who could afford to do so, would. also, it would help those over 55 who are unemployed. i am almost 60, an accountant. i have been actively looking for a job in an environment where age is a taboo.
it is frustrating and humiliating after 40 years of work and never having been unemployed before in my life. if i could get a portion of my ss and medicare, then i just might take it.

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