Every day, 10,000 baby boomers — Americans born from 1946 to 1964 — leave the work force. Most of them have not saved enough for retirement; at least one-fifth have basically no retirement savings. Our economy has a shortage of skilled workers.
Keeping older Americans on the job therefore benefits everyone: It is crucial to maintaining economic growth, and it will help the boomers to preserve and increase their savings if longevity continues to rise.
Sadly, Social Security, which was enacted 80 years ago this week, encourages older workers to leave the work force. There are remarkably strong disincentives to work for people who take their benefits early, between 62 and full retirement age (66, rising to 67 by 2027).
Wait a minute, you might be thinking: Aren’t my benefits permanently lower if I start collecting Social Security before full retirement age? And don’t I get the maximum level of benefit if I wait until I’m 70 to collect?
Workers who are financially savvy and in good health know this, and many opt to wait. But about two-thirds take their benefits early; 1 to 2 percent wait until age 70, even though the retirement benefit level is a shocking 76 percent higher (after adjusting for inflation) than at 62.