A Short History of Social Security Retirement Ages

Conn Carroll /

This year, Social Security paid out more money than it took in for the first time since 1983. If the economy rebounds, Social Security is expected to be in the black by 2012 and will stay that way until 2015. But starting in 2016 Social Security will be in the red for as long as the Social Security Trustees can see. Under current law, Social Security is scheduled to pay out $7.7 trillion more in benefits over the next 75 years than it can afford to pay from its payroll taxes.

Heritage Foundation retirement and economic policy expert David John has a new paper out making the case that one way to keep Social Security solvent is by raising the retirement age, which, as John ably details has been a moving target ever since Social Security was first created:

Although “mid-sixties” is typically the age range defined as the beginning of retirement, history shows that until fairly recently, it was common for men to be employed after they reached 65. In 1880, 76 percent of men were employed at age 65, a proportion that declined to 43 percent in 1940, and 18 percent in 1990. Although the current recession has caused more workers to postpone retirement, a 2009 survey of retirees found that 84 percent had entered retirement at age 65 or earlier. (more…)