If you need to know three things about Lloyd Blankfein, know this: the Goldman Sachs CEO is worth an estimated $450 million, he’s worked at a desk job most of his adult life, and he doesn’t think you should be able to get your Social Security benefits when you turn 62:
“You can look at history of these things, and Social Security wasn’t devised to be a system that supported you for a 30-year retirement after a 25-year career. … So there will be things that, you know, the retirement age has to be changed, maybe some of the benefits have to be affected, maybe some of the inflation adjustments have to be revised. But in general, entitlements have to be slowed down and contained.”
-Lloyd Blankfein from Nov. 19, 2012 interview with CBS News‘s Scott Pelley
Blankfein, who just celebrated his 58th birthday in September, won’t even be able to file for early Social Security benefits for another four years. Of course, judging by his estimated net worth, he won’t need to collect those benefits to make ends meet after retiring, but that isn’t stopping him from trying to keep everyone else from having to wait to get their hands on a benefits check from the Federal Government.
Right now, the earliest age where you can collect Social Security is 62; however, delaying your retirement for just three years can increase your monthly check by nearly 40 percent. Waiting until you’re 70 can almost double the benefits you would have received at age 62.
My father is on the cusp of retirement; he turned 61 earlier this year, meaning he (and my mother, for that matter) could collect his Social Security benefits starting on his next birthday. However, he’s decided to hold off both on receiving Social Security and on retiring. The reason? Even though he’s had a tough year medically, his job is largely done from behind a large mahogany desk – in other words, being at home and tending to his garden and the 3/4-acre lawn is more laborious than his career has basically ever been.
But not every job is as physically non-taxing – and this is why I think Lloyd Blankfein’s call to increase the retirement age isn’t fair. My husband, for example, is already seven years into a career in law enforcement. Unlike the stereotype of cops eating donuts and drinking coffee, my husband’s job keeps him constantly on the move; to prove the point, he goes through two to three pairs of work boots every year on the job. My husband comes from from a 12-hour shift on patrol complaining of knee pain, then goes straight to sleep; my father, by comparison, comes home from his 8-hour desk job and heads outside for a long walk with the dog.
From a purely physical point of view, my dad could probably do his current job for the rest of his life. My husband’s knees won’t last that long, at least not without a total joint replacement. I think Blankfein’s suggestion that raising the retirement age would put less of a burden on the entitlement system is short-sighted; it overlooks those with labor-heavy jobs and the impact those jobs have on a person’s body.
Even though Social Security benefits increase the longer a person delays retirement, most people don’t do that; most Americans start collecting those monthly checks sooner rather than later. Some people may ultimately have to retire early for health purposes, or because their bodies simply can’t do their jobs any longer; delaying the retirement age for this population could be disastrous. It isn’t the answer. Instead, I think the government needs to do more to help workers delay the collection of their benefits – whether this means they extend their careers or not – to put less of a burden on the system. But making universal changes that, in my opinion, would disproportionately affect blue-collar workers who are more likely to rely on those government benefits, isn’t the right way to go.
Reader, do you think increasing the retirement age is the right move for the U.S. Government?