Retirement and Senior Health
Re-posting a timely article on aging, senior health, retirement, and social security. Complex issues, certainly. And research is now showing that while we may be living longer, we may not be healthier…which continues to burden household finances and the social security benefits system.
1983, wishing to contain costs, Congress raised the age at which seniors could collect their full Social Security benefits. A person born in 1937 or earlier could receive full benefits at age 65; since then, the age has been inching gradually upward so that people born in 1960 or later will have to wait until they are 67.
Congress justified this change with a prediction that older Americans would be living longer, so they’d collect Social Security for more years, paired with another prediction that seniors would be healthier and hence able to work longer.
However, recently published research shows that those 1983 predictions missed the mark. People today who are reaching Social Security age are, in fact, not healthier. And life expectancy actually may have declined a bit. According to the study, “younger cohorts are facing more burdensome health issues, even as they have to wait until an older age to retire, so they will have to do so in poorer health.”
The data showed that the people reaching retirement age…
~ Have higher rates of problems with thinking and memory.
~ Rate their own health as “fair” or “poor” more often than their predecessors.
~ Have more problems with the daily tasks of living, such as shopping, taking medications and getting out of bed.
Are we living longer? It depends — on an individual’s lifestyle, socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity, and the work that they did. Demographers warn that these findings should be kept in mind if lawmakers attempt to raise the full-retirement age even higher. They point out that seniors who work at physically demanding jobs are less likely to be able to work into their later years — yet are the most likely to rely on Social Security for most of their retirement income.
In any case, it’s certainly a good bet that Congress will not roll back the age levels any time soon. So as we plan for our senior years, financial management and retirement savings should be a top priority.