The Republican Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina said Sunday that raising the retirement age for future Social Security recipients should be “on the table” as long as it doesn’t affect “someone who is on the way to retirement right now.”
“I think it’s something that needs to be on the table that we need to look at,” Mace told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on “State of the Union” when asked about Republican presidential nominee Nikki Haley’s call for a higher retirement age for Americans who are now in their 20s.
“I’m 45 years old. I’m assuming that Social Security is going to be insolvent, that I’m not going to have retirement funds from what I put into my adult life, my working life,” Mace said. “We have to look at Social Security. We have to look at our spending in this country, mandatory and discretionary.”
But the South Carolina Republican said, “We don’t want to take away (from) those who are retired or those who are about to retire.”
“If we’re talking about younger generations, my kids, for example, if they know how — what retirement will look like 40 years from now, 50 years from now, then that should be on the table and can be,” she said.
Congress raised the normal retirement age for Social Security, which had long been 65, as part of its 1983 overhaul of the entitlement program. The age has been gradually increasing, so that those born in 1960 or later must wait until they turn 67 to receive their full unemployment benefits.
Americans can apply for Social Security benefits as early as age 62, although they will receive reduced amounts.
Raising the retirement age is one of the options for strengthening social security, which has long stood on shaky financial ground. As the American population ages, there are fewer workers paying into the program and supporting the overwhelming number of beneficiaries who are also living longer. In total, nearly 66 million retired workers, their dependents and survivors, disabled workers and their dependents receive monthly payments.
Forecasts for when Social Security’s pension and disability funds may be exhausted vary by a few years. Social Security administrators last year set the date at 2035 if Congress does not act. At that point, the eligibility program will take in enough income to pay only 80% of scheduled benefits.
But given the number of Americans who rely on the entitlement program, elected officials are hesitant to propose changes that could lead to benefit cuts. President Joe Biden, who has vowed to protect the program, did not outline his plan to do so when he released his budget proposal last week.
Haley had first proposed changing the retirement age for “young people” at a town hall in Iowa on Wednesday, where he outlined several changes to entitlement programs. However, her campaign did not respond when CNN asked what she would set as the retirement age.
“Republicans and Democrats have messed this up,” Mace said Sunday, “and they need to fix it.”
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