Raise Social Security to 70? What about Workers with Physical Jobs?

Monday, August 30, 2010

There are those in Washington who want to raise the standard retirement age from 65 to 70 in order to ease some of the burden on Social Security. But such a change could force millions of Americans to accept reduced benefits because of the nature of their work.

According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, 6.5 million workers age 58 and older (or 35% of this age category) in 2009 had physically demanding jobs, while 5 million (about 27%) worked in difficult conditions, such as cramped workspace, laboring outdoors, or being exposed to abnormal temperatures, contaminants, hazardous equipment, or distracting or uncomfortable noise. For these types of workers, making it to 65 to retire can be challenging enough. But to ask them to hold off another five years could be too much, causing them to retire
early and accept smaller Social Security checks.
Increasing the retirement age is “likely to put a greater burden on demographic groups that have higher proportions of workers in difficult jobs,” reads the Center for Economic and Policy Research’s new report. “In particular, in 2009, physically demanding jobs and jobs that had difficult working conditions were more likely to be held by men, Latinos, the least educated (less than a high school diploma), immigrants, and the lowest wage earners.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Hard Work? Patterns in Physically Demanding Labor Among Older Workers (by Hye Jin Rho, Center for Economic and Policy Research) (pdf)


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