AP: Raising the retirement age for Social Security would disproportionately hurt low-income workers and minorities, and increase disability claims by older people unable to work, government auditors told Congress.
The projected spike in disability claims could harm Social Security's finances because disability benefits typically are higher than early retirement payments, the Government Accountability Office concluded.
"There's more to consider than simply how much money the program would save by raising the retirement age," said Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging.
If just a few points needs to be argued by Democrats to save and support Social Security, it would be the following:
"For many workers, reducing early retirement payments or delaying eligibility would provide an incentive to put off retiring, resulting in more earnings and potentially more savings for later in life, according to the watchdog agency's report." But it "could create a financial hardship for those who cannot continue to work because of poor health or demanding workplace conditions," the report said.
"Some people just can't continue to work beyond age 62 for either health reasons or they're just not able to find jobs," said David Certner, legislative policy director for
AARP. About one-fourth of workers age 60 and 61 — just under the early retirement age — reported a health condition that limited their ability to work. "Just because we tell people they should work longer doesn't mean that there are employers out there willing to hire people."
Workers older than 55 are less likely than younger workers to lose their jobs, the report said. But when older workers get laid off, they are less likely to find other employment. The GAO report says raising the age when workers can get early benefits would hurt the program's finances because of the expected increase in disability claims.