Social Security’s pending insolvency grabbed attention at the Republican presidential debate Wednesday night, with some candidates saying they would be willing to raise the full retirement age for young people just starting out.
“We have to raise the retirement age,” said former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. “I have a son who’s in the audience tonight, who’s 30 years old. If he can’t adjust to a few years increase in Social Security retirement age over the next 40 years, I got bigger problems with him than his Social Security payments.”
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Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor, said promises to current older adults must be kept, but young people just starting out should see higher retirement ages.
“What we need to do is keep our promises, those that have been promised should keep it,” Haley said. “But for like, my kids in their 20s, you go and you say ‘We’re going to change the rules.’ You change the retirement age for them.”
Currently, the full retirement age is 67 for those born in 1960 or later.
Read: Social Security is now projected to be unable to pay full benefits a year earlier than expected
Haley declined to cite a specific age that retirement should be raised to, but said it should reflect longer life expectancy.
Sen. Tim Scott, however, said he would protect Social Security for older adults and not raise the retirement age.
“Let me just say to my mama and every other mama or grandfather receiving Social Security: As president of the United States, I will protect your Social Security.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he’d protect Social Security for seniors.
“I know a few people on Social Security and … my grandmother lived until 91 and Social Security was her sole source of income. And that’s true for a lot of seniors throughout this country,” DeSantis said. “So I’d say to seniors in America: Promise made, promise kept.”
When pressed whether he would raise the retirement age, he said: “So it’s one thing to peg it on life expectancy, but we have had a significant decline in life expectancy in this country, and that is the fact.”