Tag Archives: retirement age

Longer Life Spans and Social Security

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Again, they’re talking about increasing the age of social security payouts—to age 70, it’s been proposed, for those born in 1968 or later. Which means that any moment now the discussion will shift to those born in 1965. Then 1963. This is because we’re all living longer.

They say. This is based on the fact that baby boomers are living longer.

They say. Because the Greatest Generation lived pretty long.

It’ll all get better for each generation, because progress is a given in America.

Right. Here’s why I have my doubts that my generation (X-Boom cusp) will either live as long or be as healthy when we get there: 

  • We don’t have wives
  • We don’t have steady, secure jobs, so we’re spiking cortisol at the wrong time in our lives and building up lots of arterial and brain plaque
  • We work much harder, with longer hours and with shorter and fewer vacations (jeez, some of our parents took entire months at the lake or the Cape)
  • We don’t have time to work out or cook the way we used to, even 10 years ago, because of outsourcing and other demands at work—so even when we think of ourselves as fit and healthy, we’re probably not
  • We had children much later and no one knows the long-term effects of this on hormone balance, sleep patterns, and life span
  • We suffer from unprecedented levels of sleep deprivation, estimated to kill you about 10 years earlier
  • We take tons of prescription drugs for reasons no one in our parents’ generation ever even heard of, and again no one knows how this will affect us long-term
  • Obesity and diabetes are rampant, and while some of us may want to distance ourselves from those who make “lifestyle choices” associated with these conditions, this will nonetheless mess up our overall actuarials
  • Pollution, fertilizers, genetic modifications, pesticides, and general soil depletion will have unknown consequences

I see no reason to assume that the longer life spans currently enjoyed by today’s retirees can be projected for younger generations. And even if, by some streak of luck, we do live as long, there are a host of genetic issues that healthy lifestyle choices can’t change, including hearing impairment and vision degeneration (healthy choices, such as running, can even cause joint damage), and that insurance agencies and employers may not want to underwrite.

The Boomers and the Greatest Gen got to retire a few years before their quality of life was affected by these conditions, and they ran around on our tab. I hope we can enjoy a few years of retirement also, before we go blind, deaf, and lame.

By most accounts, we’ve worked harder than they did, and harder than GenY is likely to.

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