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The Future of Social Security: 12 Proposals You Should Know About

Pros and cons of options on the table in Washington

Raise the Full Retirement Age

The age when a person becomes eligible to receive full Social Security retirement benefits (the full retirement age) has been increasing from age 65 on a schedule set by Congress in 1983. It has reached 66 and will gradually rise to 67 for those born in 1960 and later. Raising the full retirement age further is one option to help close Social Security’s funding gap. The earliest age for claiming reduced benefits could remain at age 62, but the monthly benefit for those claiming early would be further reduced – about 6 to 8 percent for each year that the full retirement age increases.

One proposal would raise the full retirement age to 68. Starting in 2023, the age would increase by two months each year until it reached 68 in 2028. This is estimated to fill 18 percent of the funding gap. Another proposal would raise the full retirement age to 70. Starting in 2023, the age would increase by two months each year until it reached 70 in 2040. This is estimated to fill 44 percent of the funding gap.

PRO: People are living longer than ever before, and the full benefits age should be increased. Otherwise, recipients will spend an ever-greater amount of their lives living in retirement, which we simply cannot afford. When Social Security started in 1935, 65-year-old men expected to spend about 13 years in retirement. Soon, men will live about 20 years in retirement. Women in 1935 averaged 15 years in retirement. Soon, they will live almost 22 years. (David John, Heritage Foundation)

CON: Raising the full retirement age is a benefit cut no matter what age you begin taking benefits. The increase from 65 to 67 already in law cuts benefits by 13 percent. Low-earning workers have seen little or no gains in longevity. Raising the full retirement age for everyone simply because well-off Americans are living longer is a stealth benefit cut that is unnecessary and unjust. We can afford to improve and pay for Social Security without benefit cuts. (Virginia Reno, National Academy of Social Insurance)

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