It’s Hell Getting Old

This academic year marks the end of my 19th year at MSMS. I almost certainly have more years behind me than ahead of me. I am not ready to retire, though I have occasionally thought about it. Speaking with similarly aged friends in different professions, I’ve not been surprised to discover two reasons they haven’t seriously considered retirement.

First, the cost of medical care outpaces cost of living adjustments made to pensions. People born after 1960 aren’t eligible for Medicare until they’re 67. Because individual health insurance policies for people in my ages bracket cost several hundred dollars a month–and for those with pre-existing conditions, more than a thousand dollars a month–typical state pensioners cannot afford to retire based on years in the system. They must wait until they get close to Medicare eligibility unless they have another job waiting in the wings.

Second, they ask themselves a more existential question: “After X years of teaching (or lawyering, banking, etc.), what in the world am I going to do?” (I have a much easier time answering that question. There’s always something to do.)

So why should my student bloggers care?

The longer people my age wait to retire, the fewer job openings there are in professions that might appeal to you. This affects not only your future earnings, but also innovation in your field, as people my age are less likely to embrace changes within their professions.

Obviously, professions need employees with my breadth of experience to promote cultural continuity and to safeguard the transmission of institutional knowledge. What policies would you craft that would protect the health and wealth of retirees, but allow for young people to enter the workforce more successfully?

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4 Responses to It’s Hell Getting Old

  1. Gracyn Young says:

    I would first begin by developing some type of plan to prepare a larger savings account for those with plans to retire at some point. A 401K will not get you as far as it will today as it would have many years ago. Especially not in the 1960s, when Medicare decided you must be 67 to gain access. I would propose that to keep up with inflation, the salaries rose accordingly, and in return, the worker would be able to set aside more savings for retirement. I would also propose that Medicare begin around the age of 60 rather than 67 to account for 1. job availability, 2. quality of work (a near-70-year-old cannot do the same quality of work as a 30-year-old in most cases), and 3. (for the most part), the participant is paying for a portion of their care regardless.

  2. Rushyendranath Reddy Nalamalapu says:

    I am not familiar with the policies and regulations for retirement, but I can understand the underlying causes. More experienced employees who have worked for a company for a long time or have accumulated impressive work experience are rewarded with proportionately higher salaries. The opposite is true for employees fresh out of grad school looking for a quality position.

    Some policies are in place, but there should be consideration. It is important to optimize the interests of someone trying to settle down after an extensive career and innovation. Medicare can be adjusted to be more need-based for different workers and their demands. Furthermore, employers must be more attentive to their worker’s preferences in this particular topic.

    For the topic of innovation and new students getting their first positions in the field, the increase in job growth will supply new workers with options to get a job immediately after college. It should be known that workers who have been a part of an organization for an extended period of time should be given a higher level of respect. Experienced workers are key to helping keep the company’s traditions and providing valuable information about how the company has grown in the past. Of course, companies are the only places people retire from and this varies case by case. All in all, retirees should be accommodated and respected in a way that views them not as a burden but as valuable individuals who are veterans in their careers.

  3. Jon Kiesel says:

    Well, there are at least two dominant parameters to consider while constructing retirement policy: The age limit and the potential benefits. Increasing the age limit makes people work longer before retirement, and fewer job opening current, but it may improve the potential benefits for retirement, and there are more workers. However, decreasing the age limit would have a higher job opening current, but there would also be fewer people at work and more in retirement, affecting those retirement benefits. Furthermore, increasing the benefits would likely make more people enter retirement given the opportunity, and decreasing would likewise have less. There’s a clear balance to strike that works for everybody, families, and companies included; finding that balance is the difficult part.

    With an increasing population and improvements in technology that makes living less costly, my gut instincts tell me there would to be less resistance to slightly lowering the age limit from where it is now. The whole system is much like supply and demand, with companies buying out what they can from their experienced workers (like they’re maintaining an NFL roster) and everyone else figuring out if it’s better to retire or work a little longer. And a more difficult question to answer in the eyes of a politician: how low do you really want to go?

  4. Bill Arnoldus says:

    A possible solution to the rising medical costs is to institute a policy where if a retiree can’t afford medical bills then the government will cut them a check to cover it to ensure the prolonged health and wealth of the said retiree.

    I wasn’t aware that young people were having trouble entering the work force. Maybe, give all persons of a certain age range a marginal tax break if they were in the workforce that increases the longer they stay in it, eventually capping out. This would provide an incentive not only to join the work force, but stay in it as well.

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