Allen was asked whether Republicans are considering raising the eligibility age for Social Security retirement benefits.
Republican Rep. Rick Allen of Georgia said on Jan. 12 that the way to handle problems with Social Security and to increase wealth is for people to work longer and retire later. Allen said that his constituents have told him that that is exactly what they want to do.
As seen in a video released by the organization, Allen is asked in a hallway in Congress by a staffer with Social Security Works, an advocacy group whose mission is to protect and expand Social Security, "How do you guys plan on cutting Social Security this Congress?" Allen replies, "We're not going to cut Social Security."
The staffer then asks about "raising the age of retirement."
"You know, uh, it's interesting that you ask that question," Allen says. "People come up to me, they actually want to work longer." The staffer prompts, "So that's on the table, you're saying?" and Allen responds: "Well, you know, if people want to work longer, maybe you need to give them incentive to do it. That's the way to solve every one of these problems, by the way, and actually grow wealth at the same time." Pointing to his head, Allen concludes, "It just takes that right there."
The exchange comes as congressional Republicans discuss making cuts to social safety net programs to reduce government spending.
Currently, people can opt for what the Social Security Administration calls "early retirement" by receiving reduced benefits at age 62. If they wait to start receiving benefits until they are between the ages of 66 and 67, depending on the year they were born, they are eligible to collect the full benefit.
Conservative lawmakers and groups have been pushing to raise the retirement age, saying that people now live longer and thus receive Social Security benefits for longer, which they claim will eventually make the program insolvent.
"Consistent with the historical rate of increasing longevity and rising labor-force participation at older ages, the normal retirement age should be raised by one month every two years," Mark J. Warshawsky, a senior fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank, wrote in March.
The Republican Study Committee, a House caucus of conservative Republicans of which Allen is a member, released a budget proposal during the 2022 midterms that included a call to raise the Social Security retirement age to 70.
"Since Medicare's creation in 1965, advances in science and medical technology have increased average life expectancy. This is a great miracle, but it challenges the solvency of the Medicare program," the plan says. "To address the increased demands on Medicare, the RSC Budget proposes aligning Medicare's eligibility age with the normal retirement age for Social Security and then indexing this age to life expectancy."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.