What Will The Maximum Retirement Age Be?

By Chris Neiger | June 20, 2012 AAA

The recession in America has caused many people to asses retirement ages. Although the recession is technically over, that doesn't mean much for the job market. As the U.S. deals with ongoing financial instability, the impact on future retirees in the U.S. is becoming clear. People will have to work longer than they used to. It might not come as a shock to most Americans that this is the case, but for younger workers the question isn't if they'll have to work longer, it's how much longer will they have to work than their parents and grandparents did?

The Current Retirement Picture
Currently, the early retirement age for Americans is 62; full retirement starts at 66. The government plans to raise the retirement age incrementally. By 2022 this age will reach 67, but some experts are expecting a much more dramatic increase in the retirement age than most have anticipated previously.

Robert Benmosche, Chairman of American International Group (AIG), recently said the retirement age will "have to move to 70, 80 years old," according to an article on Bloomberg. He was speaking generally about Western countries in light of the economic problems Greece and the rest of Europe are facing. Aside from economic problems in the world, retirement is an expensive endeavor. Fidelity Investments recently released a report that said a newly retired couple can expect to pay 4% more for medical bills over the course of retirement than a couple who retired last year. They went on to say that a couple who retires now will need about $240,000 for medical expenses over the course of retirement. Unfortunately, medical costs are going up, not down. Future retirees can expect even more costs in this area. Even if the Supreme Court upholds President Obama's health care law, the impact on retirees may not be enough to offset the growing costs of medical care.

SEE: 20 Ways to Save On Medical Bills

Where the Retirement Age Is Going
According to Gallup, the actual average retirement age in 1991 was 57 and the current average has stayed around 60 since 2004. In a recent poll by Gallup, most people indicated that they expected to retire at 67. So, although people are expecting to retire later, the actual statistics show that the average age at which retirees actually retired is only three years higher now than it was over 20 years ago, from 57 in 1991 to 60 today. That may change soon. If the current downturn keeps people from entering retirement, and it looks like it will, then that average may go up quickly. Many people are choosing encore careers. Encore careers are jobs people move into after their previous jobs, and work at least part time to add more money to their nest eggs.

Aside from economic woes, America is facing an aging population that is expected to drain resources in Social Security and Medicare. According to a study completed by Medill Reports, the population of those older than 65 will go from 39 million today to 89 million by 2050. An increase in the retired population may overload America's health systems and cause the retirement age to be pushed even higher.

The Bottom Line
It's impossible to calculate exactly how high the retirement age could be pushed to, but many experts expect an increase. According to a New York Times article, when Social Security was first introduced life expectancy was only 63 and there were 40 workers to support each retiree. We currently have about three workers per one retiree now.

SEE: Life Expectancy: It's More Than Just A Number

Because everyone's financial situation is different, retirement ages will vary among the population. An increased retirement population, a down economy and problems with government programs may all contribute to future delayed retirement for Americans.

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