What’s the right retirement age? Experts say it depends.

Also: Americans Now Think They'll Need a Record $1.46 Million to Retire Comfortably
͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ 
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April 17, 2024
Retire with Money

For many Americans approaching their retirement years, one question is often top of mind: When is the ideal time to stop working?

Traditionally, the answer is around age 65, the original national retirement age established by the Social Security Act in 1935. That might seem like a reasonable number today, but a closer look at history reveals it had little to do with what was good for workers at the time, according to labor economist Teresa Ghilarducci.

Back then, the average U.S. life expectancy was just 58 for men and 62 for women. Just over half of the adult male population would even live to see 65.

“Setting the age at 65, when life expectancy was a lot lower than it is today, was a political decision to get the Social Security legislation through,” she says.

A lot has changed since the foundation of Social Security, including the full retirement age to claim benefits, which is now 67. Some lawmakers on the political right have proposed increasing it again to remedy Social Security’s looming funding crisis, arguing that it’s necessary to account for Americans’ increased lifespans.

Economists and experts on aging, however, largely say the policy move would not only reduce benefits for all retirees, but also harm the health of most older Americans. You can find out more about what they had to say about raising the retirement age, and why there isn’t one ideal age for retirement, by reading my story.

If you have any burning questions or want to share your retirement experience, drop me a line at mcags@money.com.

— Mary Ellen Cagnassola, Money reporter

Mary Ellen Cagnassola

P.S. If you got this newsletter from a friend, sign up here for email delivery to make sure you don't miss the next issue.

Stat of the Week: 7 in 10
Cash

It’s not just experts who don’t agree on a universal retirement age, according to a recent survey from Nationwide Mutual’s retirement institute. Nearly 7 in 10 non-retired investors between 55 and 65 years said that the traditional retirement age doesn’t apply to them — and a similar share said they expect to face more challenges in retirement than their parents and grandparents.

Retirement 1, 2, 3
Couple
  • 💼 CNN reports on Americans over 75 who were forced to go back to work to afford for their expenses in retirement.
  • 💰 New research from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania shows that most retirees are better off keeping their savings in 401(k) plans, rather than moving them to IRAs or cashing out.
  • ✒️ Many Americans have to retire earlier than planned. Columnist Kate Ashford shares advice on how to prepare.

More Insights and Advice from Money
retirement
Many Americans dream of the day that they’ll hang up their briefcases and enter life's third act, but a recent study suggests that retirement isn't joyful for everyone.
Money

retirement
What’s the magic number you need in savings to have a comfortable retirement? Americans now predict they’ll require $1.46 million to bankroll their third acts: the highest estimate on record, according to research released Tuesday.
Money; Getty Images

retirement
If you’ve stumbled upon any financial independence, retire early (FIRE) influencers on social media, you’ve likely noticed similar themes: Escaping from the 9-to-5 grind.
Rangely García for Money

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