Some policy makers have sought to raise the Social Security full retirement age – when you can receive 100 percent of your deserved benefit – as part of the solution to the program’s long-term financial underfunding. But paint workers earn less, have a shorter life expectancy, and work in physically demanding jobs that become more difficult to do with age. For example 50 percent of black workers aged 55 to 62 years reported in 2014 that they have jobs that require “a lot of physical exertion” compared to just 32 percent of whites.
Under the current system, if you submit at the earliest age of 62, you will receive 75 percent of your full annual benefit. every 12 months delay after your full retirement age (currently approx. 66, depending on your year of birth) gives you an additional 8 percentage points until you turn 70.
As a result of the changes that came into force in 1983, the retirement age is already gradually increasing from 65 to 67 years. Boston College researchers find that further raising the full retirement age would increase pension wealth inequality and disproportionately affect minority households.
Additionally, the average life expectancy of black Americans is shorter – in 2014, their average life expectancy from age 65 was 18.1 years, compared with 19.3 years for whites Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the expectation for black men was even shorter at 16.1 years.
“As you extend the retirement age to receive full benefit, you reduce the number of people who will die younger,” said William E. Spriggs, chief economist at the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and Professor at Howard University. “Instead, we should raise taxes on higher-income people, who will live longer, and stop playing with retirement age.”
A leading progressive organization wants to do more to address this problem. The Social Security Works group has proposed updating the current early retirement cuts, which have not been revised since 1956.
The percentage of full benefit an employee could receive at age 62 would increase to 85 percent and gradually increase to 100 percent at full retirement age.