Watch CBS News

As Americans prefer to retire earlier, the age for full retirement benefits creep up

As Americans prefer to retire earlier, the age for full retirement benefits creep up
As Americans prefer to retire earlier, the age for full retirement benefits creep up 02:57

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - French citizens have taken to the streets in sometimes violent protests against raising their retirement age from 62 to 64.

As KDKA money editor Jon Delano explains, it comes as the United States is slowly raising its retirement age to 67.

To many Americans and other Europeans, for that matter, the French seem to be very lucky to have full retirement even at age 64.  For Americans born in 1960 or later, the retirement age is 67 with full Social Security benefits.

"Back in 1983, Ronald Reagan took action and raised the ultimate retirement age to 67," says Ward Garner, a certified financial planner.

President Reagan and House Speaker Tip O'Neill cut a bipartisan deal to save Social Security by raising both taxes and the retirement age, knowing they and members of Congress would long be dead before it took full effect in 2027.

Other countries have already raised the age with Denmark, Greece, Iceland, Israel and Italy now already at age 67.

The Netherlands, Portugal, Australia, the United States, Spain, Ireland and the United Kingdom are at age 66.

Of course, many Americans try to retire earlier, says Garner.

"Most people start their Social Security distributions at age 62 or shortly thereafter," says Garner.

But if you do that, you lose 30 percent of that regular Social Security check.

If you can work until age 70 before taking Social Security, you will get a much larger monthly check.

"If your normal retirement age is 67 and you chose not to collect benefits until the mandatory age of 70, you will collect 124 percent of your normal retirement age value," says Garner.

Surprisingly, nearly one out of 10 75-year-olds are working, and high inflation and poorly performing 401ks and IRAs keep many on the job.

Some who did retire are now back working again.  That makes the right retirement age a very personal decision.

"The desire to retire is there, but the ability oftentimes is lacking," says Garner.

As we can see in France, raising the retirement age is politically tricky.

Reagan and O'Neill were right.  If you are going to raise the retirement age to 68 or 70, do it way off in the future. That's what Ireland and the United Kingdom are doing, raising their retirement age to 68 in 2028 and 2037, respectively.  

So far, America has not yet followed.  

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.