Let's hope that Obama and the Congress are listening, not to the DFHers who are warning them that cuts to Social Security, including raising the retirement age, would be disastrous to older Americans, but to their own auditors.
WASHINGTON – 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. The report shows an unequal effect on certain groups of people, he said Thursday, and many of them "would have little choice but to turn to the broken disability program."
The report, requested by Kohl's committee, draws on research by outside groups as well as interviews with Social Security officials and data from the Social Security Administration. Researchers also analyzed data from the Health and Retirement Study, a continuing study of older Americans by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research.
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. Among those older workers, blacks and Hispanics were much more likely to report fair or poor health than whites, according to the report.
Less healthy older workers had lower incomes, less accumulated wealth and were much less likely to have attended college.
Replacing retirement benefits with disability benefits is a bad and unnecessary trade-off, and making life even more difficult for people who have worked their whole lives, paying into this system is unnecessarily cruel. It's pretty much there in black and white from the GAO.
Of course, it is an AP story, so we get a lot of conservative editorializing masked as "balance."
On its current path, Social Security is projected to run out of money by 2037, largely because of aging baby boomers reaching retirement. The longer action is delayed, the harder it will get to shore up the program....
The plan from Bowles and Simpson promotes shared sacrifice: High-income workers would pay more in payroll taxes to support the system; current retirees would get smaller annual increases in benefits; future retirees have to wait longer to qualify for full benefits.
There's no indication that delaying the few tweaks, like raising the payroll tax cap, that would make Social Security solvent for decades to come would be any harder to do in 10 years than they are now. The "share" of the "sacrifice" imposed on poor and middle class people is disproportionately large, considering the gift it would give to the wealthy.