Republican Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina said Sunday that raising the retirement age for future Social Security beneficiaries should be “on the table” as long as it doesn’t affect “anybody that’s heading into retirement right now.”
“I think that’s something that has to be on the table, we have to look at,” Mace told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on “State of the Union” when asked about Republican presidential candidate 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 will be insolvent, that I won’t have retirement funds from what I put into in my adult life, my working life,” Mace said. “We do have to look at Social Security. We have got to look at our spending in this country, mandatory and discretionary.”
But, the South Carolina Republican said, “We do not want to take away (from) those that are in retirement or those that are heading into retirement.”
“If we’re talking about younger generations, my kids, for example, if they know what the – what the 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 increased 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 collect their full benefits.
Americans can file for Social Security benefits as early as age 62, though they will receive reduced amounts.
Raising the retirement age is one of the options to strengthen Social Security, which has long been on shaky financial ground. As the US population ages, there are fewer workers paying into the program and supporting the ballooning number of beneficiaries, who are also living longer. In all, nearly 66 million retired workers, their dependents and survivors, disabled workers and their dependents receive monthly payments.
Forecasts on when Social Security’s retirement and disability trust funds may be depleted differ by a few years. Social Security’s trustees last year pegged the date at 2035 if Congress doesn’t act. At that time, the entitlement program will take in enough income to pay only 80% of scheduled benefits.
However, given the number of Americans who rely on the entitlement program, elected officials are hesitant to suggest any changes that could lead to benefit cuts. President Joe Biden, who has promised to protect the program, did not lay out his plan for doing so when he released his budget proposal last week.
Haley had first suggested altering the retirement age for “young people” at a town hall in Iowa on Wednesday, outlining several changes to entitlement programs. Her campaign, however, did not respond when CNN asked what she would set as the retirement age.
“Republicans and Democrats have screwed this thing up,” Mace said Sunday, “and they have got to fix it.”