Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Not All Americans Can Be a Betty White

Betty-white1 Older celebrities like Betty White (89) and Joan Rivers (77) may have the stamina to continue working well past retirement age, but for many Americans, working past the age of 65 is unlikely. A recent survey found that 74% of Americans expect to continue working after retirement (increased from 56% in 1998). Additionally, the survey found that 36% of Americans do not expect to retire until after age 65 (increased from 11% in 1991).

However, the same survey found that 45% of current retirees left work earlier than they expected. Reasons for these early retirements included the retiree’s health or disability, downsizing or other company changes, and caring for a family member.

For Social Security benefits purposes, 62 is currently the early retirement age, and 66 is the “full” or “normal” retirement age for Americans born between 1943 and 1954. The full retirement age increases two months per birth year and eventually hits 67 for Americans born in 1960 or later. During the recession, 42% of Americans claimed early Social Security retirement benefits and will experience a reduction in their full benefits amount as a result.

Some economists advocate for the raise of both the full and early retirement ages, though these economists believe allowances for individuals unable to work past 62 should exist. These economists concede that, realistically, the average American cannot work in a regular job past the age of 67.

The notion that Americans can quit work at 55 or 60 to lounge on the beach has already been exposed as the unaffordable fantasy it always was. But it’s delusional, too, to believe we all have the stamina and skills to hang in there as long as Betty White—or even until 67.

Janet Novack, Betty White, Joan Rivers, Social Security And Senior Slackers, Forbes, Apr. 6, 2011.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (WealthCounsel) for brining this to my attention.


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