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Retirement age and age discrimination
Old 08-27-2011, 04:03 PM   #1
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Retirement age and age discrimination

There are many suggestions for fixing the SS problem by slowly raising the retirement age to 67 or 68, in stages over the next 10-20 years. I do not have a problem with this since we all live longer and healthier today than when the retirement age was originally set (by Otto von Bismark way back when most people did not live to be 65!) But, I am concerned about age discrimination that takes place today and could really hurt older workers as they get within retirement age. I have not suffered directly from age discirimination, but I do know of a number of people in their late 50's and early 60's who simply cannot find a professional job at their age. Even if they are willing to take a cut in pay, they can't land a job. Several have been told (not in writting, alas!) that they are looking for somebody who will be around for at least 10 years. However, most age discrimination is much more subtle. My thought is this: If the Government does raise the retirement age to 67 or above, they must make a very strong effort to beef up and enforce the age discrimination laws.
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Old 08-27-2011, 04:23 PM   #2
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I don't think the government cares about age discrimination. Actually I think they hope we are dead by 67. What could they do about it anyway, the employers don't come out and say beat it old man, you just won't get called for the job. I'll just sit on the side lines and let the other old folks take what ever job they can get.
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Old 08-27-2011, 04:30 PM   #3
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This is the biggest problem, by far, with the proposals to raise the SS/Medicare eligibility ages. The unemployment rate for folks over 50, as well as rampant and sometimes even blatant age discrimination in employment, is already very high. All raising the age would do is make that many more of the "young old" continue to compete in the workforce (and if recent history is a guide, that "competition" won't go very well). And even though raising the age might make sense from a demographic/life expectancy point of view, from a practical view it's flat-out cruel without enough jobs (with health insurance) to support the move. Health insurance is, in fact, a big part of the problem where older workers are concerned.

In reality, I think both the private and public sectors have to be willing to change how they work -- for one thing, severing the tie between health insurance and full-time employment might help -- some empty nesters with paid off homes and no debt may be okay on just part time income if the health insurance wasn't a concern. This could open the door for more "job sharing" by 50-somethings and 60-somethings, who may have "almost" enough to call it quits but are currently working mostly for the health insurance.

I can tell you this: If the health insurance fiasco were fixed so I didn't need full-time employment to get it, and if I could get 1/2 my current pay for a 20-hour work week, I'd probably take it. And I'm only 45. I'd have to imagine those in their 50s and early 60s in similar situations would do so even more enthusiastically in many cases.
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Old 08-27-2011, 04:33 PM   #4
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My thought is this: If the Government does raise the retirement age to 67 or above, they must make a very strong effort to beef up and enforce the age discrimination laws.
That's a tall order. It would be far better to simply eliminate, as much as possible, the things that cause employers to not hire/keep older workers. One thing that will help is the elimination of employer-provided health insurance. Older workers cost a lot more to insure, which reduces the attractiveness of hiring (or keeping) them. That will become less of a problem as employers drop health insurance in the coming years.

Also, older workers are going to need to learn new skills, which ain't easy for some of us. Employers will always want/keep the most productive employees, no amount of legal protection is going to make them hire a dinosaur (of any age) who won't learn to use web portals, etc. Also, in the global economy, the US pay rates and job expectations are going to change. An oldster who might be used to having weekends free, no overtime, maybe he's not used to working for someone 20 years younger--well, he/she might find himself out of work. OTOH, an experienced employee who has kept his techncial and people skills sharp will be a catch and smart companies in a competitive economy will be on the lookout for them.
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Old 08-27-2011, 06:42 PM   #5
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I think "retirement age" is a misnomer. It's the age at which a person can take full SS benefits. A lot of people are retirement long before that. I understand that was the intent of SS, but any more, at least on this forum, it's more of a windfall for those that have funded their own retirement.
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Old 08-27-2011, 08:22 PM   #6
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Only people with desk jobs think everyone can retire a couple years later. More than 50% of people have physical jobs where their bodies just can't do it. To me it's a joke when congress talks about this - they just do not get this.
'
My grandfather and his brothers all had those types of jobs, sheet metal worker, factory workers - they were broken by 60. Bad backs, knees, etc. This is a huge issue.
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Old 08-27-2011, 08:33 PM   #7
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If we produce more things in this country and insist on buying mostly made and assembled in the USA, we'll have more govt. revenue and will not have to worry about adjusting SS benefits.

For the same reason, if there is such an abundance of jobs, because of above, age discrimination, theoretically will be less, since we will need workers young or old.
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Old 08-27-2011, 09:31 PM   #8
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If we produce more things in this country and insist on buying mostly made and assembled in the USA, we'll have more govt. revenue and will not have to worry about adjusting SS benefits.
If we produce goods and services that are the best value in the world (quality/price), Americans will buy them. If we don't, no amount of cajoling or tariffs will save us from decline. Government policies that increase US competitiveness will do the most to increase our standard of living.
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Old 08-27-2011, 09:39 PM   #9
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If we produce goods and services that are the best value in the world (quality/price), Americans will buy them. If we don't, no amount of cajoling or tariffs will save us from decline. Government policies that increase US competitiveness will do the most to increase our standard of living.
I mostly agree. Which means there's a cognitive dissonance issue with folks who complain about the exporting of jobs to China and elsewhere, even as they shop all over for the cheapest price for everything. "Dang those businesses for sending jobs to China! Bye honey, I'm going to Wal-Mart, back in a little while..."

To some degree, each consumer has the ability to influence policy with their purchasing decisions. Having said that, there is a "tragedy of the commons" effect here in that many people figure they can't make a difference by being a "lone wolf" in buying a $30 American-made widget, so they buy the $20 "Made in China" widget instead. And when businesses get the message that "cheap sells," there go the jobs. To some degree, that's on us.
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Old 08-27-2011, 10:02 PM   #10
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Often the consumer wants the $5 "good enough" hammer rather than the $50 hammer with the polished alloy head, graphite handle, etc. Americans can make the $5 hammers, but only if they'll work for $3 per day, like the Chinese do. Unless we're willing to do that, those hammers will continue to be made in China. Which is probably okay.

There are two ways the US can be competitive with the rest of the world.
1) Concentrate on producing high quality goods that command top dollar and can provide decent margins and jobs (Apple, Caterpillar, movie companies)
2) Compete on cost through higher productivity or lower labor prices. I think in some industries we'll be seeing more of this. In most industries, those $50/hour (+ big benefits) assembly line jobs are long gone.
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Old 08-27-2011, 10:17 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BellBarbara
Only people with desk jobs think everyone can retire a couple years later. More than 50% of people have physical jobs where their bodies just can't do it. To me it's a joke when congress talks about this - they just do not get this.
'
My grandfather and his brothers all had those types of jobs, sheet metal worker, factory workers - they were broken by 60. Bad backs, knees, etc. This is a huge issue.
This point can't be emphasized enough. I don't have the answer to this problem, but I imagine most of us on this forum did not live the life of a construction or sheet metal worker. I keep myself in good shape and there is no way at my age of 47 could I handle that net alone at 65! I realize how lucky that the 30 minutes out of my teenage life that I actually thought about my career choice, I wound up in what I did. It could have easily went the way of unionized work which was very prevalent and high paying back in my youthful years.
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Old 08-27-2011, 11:53 PM   #12
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I work in a shipyard and see the old union worker forcing themselves to keep going. One is now more management but 65 and his wife has another round of chemo and can't work. If he retires she can't get medicare and he would need to buy COBRA to cover her so he must work until his wife is 65. Another has been a union machinist for 35 years at 55, he is moving slow. His union pension is in deep trouble so he is afraid to retire.

My family had 3 retired pipefitters and none worked past about 58, bodies went bad. Dad attempted to keep working but a work injury got worse with age until he couldn't work more than 3 days so would quit jobs to rest. He finally gave it up and let mom support him then when he was 62 applied for SS, they said he was disabled and gave him retroactive coverage. His brother retired about the same late 50s just couldn't do it. My brother gave it up at 58 it was too painful to continue, he is 62 now and doing much better.
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Old 08-28-2011, 01:10 AM   #13
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If the Government does raise the retirement age to 67 or above, they must make a very strong effort to beef up and enforce the age discrimination laws the employees must make a very strong effort to beef up and keep current their skill sets and their leadership abilities.
As SamClem mentioned...

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If we produce more things in this country and insist on buying mostly made and assembled in the USA, we'll have more govt. revenue and will not have to worry about adjusting SS benefits.
You mean things like Toyotas and Hondas?
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Old 08-28-2011, 07:59 AM   #14
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Why not keep the early retirement date at 62, but keep pushing back the full retirement date (let the people decide when they want to take the reduced benefit)?
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Old 08-28-2011, 08:15 AM   #15
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You mean things like Toyotas and Hondas?
Why not? Business doesn't pay that much tax. Labor does. As long as the labor is in the US and getting paid.

If people live longer either the retirement age needs to be delayed or the retirement savings rate needs to be increased.
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Old 08-28-2011, 09:20 AM   #16
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There are many problems with raising the retirement age for SS and Medicare.

While people may be living longer... they are not necessarily able to work, yet they would not qualify for disability.

There is not going to be a perfect solution.

But, there are good solutions... yet no magic solution that will fix it today. The solution will have to be phased in over decades...
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Old 08-28-2011, 10:56 AM   #17
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I don't agree with the "people are living a lot longer now and will live even longer in the future" premise. I think it's a myth that appeals to many, since it involves holding off the dreaded skeleton with the scythe. I don't see it in my life -- several people I've known have died well before their 60s -- and it's not in the stats either, as explained in this article that I've pointed to before:

Quote:
The reality is that the average 1946-born baby boomer retiring this year can expect to live about 18 years. Compare that to his or her grandparents who retired at age 65 in the 1960's and could expect to live 15 years, and you see the proper comparison. The correct evaluation involves life expectancy at age 65, not at birth! The truth, surprising to many, is that the average increase in life expectancy for a 65-year-old is only about three or so years. The increase is even smaller for retirements at ages beyond 65. And the social security retirement age is already being raised by two years (to 67).
As the writer mentions, Social Security is already being adjusted for the small longevity increase. I personally don't qualify for full benefits until 67. I accepted that change when it was implemented under Reagan and planned accordingly -- moving the goal post again would simply not be right. Solutions should be sought elsewhere.
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Old 08-28-2011, 11:24 AM   #18
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When SS was announced a 20 year old male had a life expectancy of 48 more years, and his wife of the same age also 48 more years. Retiring at age 62, he would collect 6 years and she a fraction more - on average.

In 2004 a 20 year male old could expect to live 57 more years and his wife of the same age 61 more years. If he retires at age 65 he can expect to draw 12 years of SS and she 16 years. More than double.

This trend may continue or not - I have no idea. But there is no doubt that when comparing baby boomer with their grandparents, more boomers live longer and collect more years of SS retirement.
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Old 08-28-2011, 11:59 AM   #19
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As the writer mentions, Social Security is already being adjusted for the small longevity increase.
But evidently it isn't being adjusted enough. If the life expectancy of a 65 year old has increased by 3 years, as your reference says, then shouldn't SS full retirement age be increased by 3 years, also, instead of only by 2 years?
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Old 08-28-2011, 04:26 PM   #20
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When SS was announced a 20 year old male had a life expectancy of 48 more years, and his wife of the same age also 48 more years. Retiring at age 62, he would collect 6 years and she a fraction more - on average.

When Otto von Bismark ( a good Prussian as I recall) set the retirement age at 65, he did so knowing that most people would never make it!
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