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Why a Gen Y guy is begging to raise his Social Security retirement age

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My generation (Millennials or Generation Y) has come into the workforce at a tough time. Unemployment for people in their twenties is twice the national average. In part because of the poor economy and our entry-level place in it, most Millennials have little saved for retirement and many have a hard time doing anything but living from paycheck to paycheck.

A recent CNBC article cited the sobering results of a Scottrade study out this spring: The majority (55 percent) of Gen Yers surveyed said that they hadn’t started saving for retirement yet and an alarming 73 percent of them have less than $25,000 saved for retirement.

At the same time, my generation is more worried about Social Security running out and having to work in retirement just to pay their living expenses (38 percent of them) than any other generation. In our current state, we’re most in need of Social Security payments in retirement, but we’re also the most at risk for not getting them.

Raising the early Social Security benefit age from 62 to 64 or 65 and regular retirement age from an average age of 66 to 69 or 70 would save hundreds of billions of dollars over the next 10 years and could help reduce US debt by trillions over the next several decades. Certainly, more reforms will be needed to make the program solvent, but raising the benefit age for healthy, working Americans is one obvious and easy way to help ensure that my generation isn’t left out in the cold.

I’m filing this dispatch from St. Petersburg, a known retiree heaven where my parents live. I’m glad there’s money left now in the Social Security coffers for my folks. When the economy fell apart, they had no lavish real estate or cars they couldn’t afford, and fiscally responsible Americans like them keep the US semi-solvent. Their dues to the national kitty have been paid. I think I’m entitled, though, to the same payout system they supported, and I’m willing to accept checks that come a bit later and slightly smaller, which is better than no check and an empty apology.

I hear baby boomer politicians in Washington all the time discussing the need for Americans to sacrifice for the public good, but so far no segment of the population has responded with feeling. Well, I’m willing to sacrifice by retiring later in life, in return for a more believable promise that I’m not being swindled.

Justin D. Martin is the CLAS-Honors Preceptor of Journalism at the University of Maine and a columnist for Columbia Journalism Review. Follow him on Twitter: @Justin_D_Martin

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