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Retirement Planning > Social Security > Social Security Funding

House GOP Budget Framework Sets 70 as Full Social Security Claiming Age

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A budget proposal published by Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives calls for the raising of the full Social Security claiming age from 67 to 70.

The proposal is part of the “Blueprint to Save America,” a proposed federal government budget framework put together by the Republican Study Committee. As noted on the group’s website, nearly 75% of current House Republicans are members of the Republican Study Committee.

Raising the retirement age to at least 70 is one of several proposals to cut federal government benefits. Other provisions address programs such as Medicare and federal disability insurance.

Page 81 of the budget proposal offers details about a bill called the Social Security Reform Act. The legislation would trigger a gradual but steady increase of the normal retirement age. Specifically, under the proposal, the full retirement age would climb “at a rate of three months per year until it is increased by three years for those reaching age 62 in 2040.”

Since the current normal retirement age is 67, raising it by three years will increase it to 70.

Later on the same page, the document says that, following completion of the incremental adjustments proposed by the Social Security Reform Act, the RSC budget would link the normal retirement ages to the life expectancy of retirees. This would mean raising the retirement age even higher than 70 if life expectancy increases.

In the preamble section of the budget proposal, Reps. Jim Banks, R-Ind., and Kevin Hern, R-Okla., say the RSC framework represents “a balanced budget that will slash federal debt, rein in inflation, promote economic growth and raise wages.”

In response to the framework’s publication, Max Richtman, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, said raising the full retirement age represents “a benefit cut, plain and simple.”

“Many workers, especially those in physically demanding jobs, simply cannot work up to age 70,” Richtman said. “Job discrimination against older workers also prevents many people from working into their late 60s. The full retirement age has already been raised from 65 to 67. Republicans’ favorite solutions for Social Security’s financing challenges demand that beneficiaries themselves bear the burden.”

As Richtman noted, Congressional Democrats have introduced legislation that would extend the solvency of the Social Security trust fund by asking high earners to begin paying more into the system, without benefit cuts.

Looking forward, Richtman said, it is very likely that House Republicans, who will be in the majority next year, will use the GOP Study Committee’s blueprint as a roadmap for potential cuts to Social Security during debt ceiling negotiations — including raising the full retirement age. As Richtman noted, during the midterm campaign, Rep. Steve Scalise, the third-ranking Republican in the House, said he approved of the Republican Study Committee plan.

“Further, party leaders, such as current House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, have promised to foment a debt ceiling crisis in order to extract concessions from Democrats, including Social Security cuts,” Richtman said. “We hope and expect congressional Democrats will stand firm when it comes to defending Americans’ earned benefits — regardless of the pressure exerted by Republicans during debt ceiling negotiations.”

Nancy Altman, president of the lobbying organization Social Security Works, shared a similar perspective, noting the Republicans and Democrats in Congress are “miles apart” on the issue of reforming Social Security.

“One problem I have with the proposal is that it frames its reforms as a means of addressing future insolvency, but when you look at the details, it is more than that. This is a proposal to reduce Social Security benefits,” Altman said. “I also take issue with the part of the proposal that suggests people could just go into the market and buy private income insurance.”

According to Altman, the scale and infrastructure underpinning the Social Security program make it more efficient and fairer than private options, and she doesn’t see privatization as a feasible approach from a behavioral finance perspective. Left entirely to their own devices, it is unlikely that people of modest and lower means would or could effectively purchase private income insurance.

“I should say that I do give the Republican Study Committee due credit for putting together a specific framework,” Altman added. “This is a challenging issue and they have put forward a specific, if radical, proposal.”

In the end, Altman said, it will be up to voters to decide what approach they prefer. From her point of view, Congressional Republicans want to reduce benefit payments and shrink the program as a means of “saving it,” while Congressional Democrats would prefer to raise the Social Security taxes paid by the highest-earning Americans.


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