Watch CBS News

Nation's First Baby Boomer Turns 65 On New Years Day

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - The nation's first baby boomer, who was born in Philadelphia and grew up in South Jersey, is turning 65 after midnight.

Kathleen Casey-Kirschling, a retired teacher, now lives in Maryland. Spend an afternoon with Kirschling and you'll quickly learn she's first and foremost a proud grandmother. But born just a second after midnight on New Year's Day 1946 gave her a title she's learned to embrace, the country's first baby boomer.

"We were just the best of generations," Kirschling said.

It's a generation, beginning with Kirschling, that's now turning 65 and qualifying for Medicare. Millions of baby boomers already signed up for Social Security three years ago at age 62, Kirschling was one of them.

The former teacher from Pennsauken retired at 60 but she knows in this economy, she's one of the fortunate ones.

In fact, most Americans say Baby Boomers should be encouraged to continue to work past the traditional retirement age. That's according to a new survey that found that 75 percent of Baby Boomers themselves believe 65 is too young to retire.

CBS News reports that many Baby Boomers fear the Medicare program's obituary will be written before their own. One poll found that 43 percent don't expect to be able to depend on Medicare forever, while only 20 percent think their Medicare is secure. The rest have mixed feelings.

According to CBS News, when the last of the Boomers reaches age 65 in about two decades, Medicare will be covering more than 80 million people. At the same time, the ratio of workers paying taxes to support the program will have plunged from 3.5 for each person receiving benefits currently, to 2.3.

Kirschling calls the current state of the economy, a travesty. "At this point, as we're aging to tell us, ok you don't really deserve this or this isn't owed to you, well, it was owed to us, I mean we put that money in. These laws were passed long before us. They knew we were coming," Kirschling added.

Certainly disappointed but Kirschling says she does not feel defeated. As she celebrates another milestone this New Year, she says she's confident the Boomers are ready to weather this financial storm, calling her generation resilient.

Watch the video...

Reported by Elizabeth Hur, CBS 3

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.