FACT CHECK: Did Paul Ryan Propose Raising The Retirement Age To 70?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

The liberal Facebook page Really American, which has nearly 1 million followers, posted a meme claiming that House Speaker Paul Ryan had proposed a plan to increase the retirement age to 70.

“Hypocrisy of the GOP,” reads the Dec. 9 meme. “Paul Ryan proposed raising the retirement age to 70 but retired at 48 with a full government pension, and .”

Verdict: True

Ryan released a proposal in 2010 that would have gradually increased the retirement age for Social Security to 70 for those retiring around the year 2100.

Fact Check:

The retirement age refers to when a person can begin collecting benefits from government programs like Social Security, which provides monthly payments to those who have paid into the program for at least 10 years.

For people born in 1937 or earlier, the retirement age for full Social Security benefits is 65. The retirement age gets gradually higher for each birth year thereafter and is capped at age 67 for those born in 1960 or later, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA). At the age of 62, people have the option to retire early, but will only receive a percentage of their total retirement benefits if they do so.

As of October, there were nearly 60 million beneficiaries on Social Security. Payments from the program account for the majority of income for half of all seniors, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Ryan, now serving his tenth term in the House, released a plan back in 2010 called “A Roadmap For America’s Future” that proposed raising the retirement age for Social Security gradually by one month every two years “until it reaches 70 in the next century.” It appears the retirement age for those retiring in 2026 would have been 67 and then reached 70 for those retiring around 2100.

As one of several changes proposed to keep Social Security solvent, the plan cited the continued growth of life expectancy at the time as justification for the move. It’s currently projected that the Social Security trust fund will be depleted by 2034.

The plan, which also proposed a number of tax and Medicare reforms, was introduced as legislation in Congress, but ultimately not enacted.

In more recent years, Ryan suggested that, as house speaker, any Republican plan to raise the retirement age for Social Security wasn’t set in stone. “We haven’t as a caucus decided this issue yet,” Ryan told CBS News in 2015, shortly after he assumed the position. “So as speaker of the House, I help manage and bring to a consensus, I’m not dictator of the House. But I have always believed, and I’ve been public about this for many years, for younger people, when they age, we should change the retirement age to reflect longevity.”

Other conservatives, such as Lindsey Graham, Jeb Bush, Mike Lee and Rand Paul, have all supported the idea of raising the retirement age.

“Bumping up the Social Security retirement age is fair and reasonable. It can help shore up the program’s shaky solvency without saddling younger generations with excessive payroll taxes,” writes Romina Boccia, director of the Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget at the Heritage Foundation.

A handful of Democrats have, at times, supported raising the retirement age in recent years, but most remained opposed. The 2016 Democratic Party platform vowed to fight any attempts to raise the retirement age for Social Security.

Critics of raising the retirement age suggest that it may adversely affect the poor.

“People who are shorter-lived tend to make less, which means that if you raise the retirement age, low-income populations would be subsidizing the lives of higher-income people,” Maya Rockeymoore, president and chief executive of Global Policy Solutions, told The Washington Post. “Whenever I hear a policymaker say people are living longer as a justification for raising the retirement age, I immediately think they don’t understand the research or, worse, they are willfully ignoring what the data say.”

Ryan announced earlier this year that he will be retiring from Congress once his term is complete. He will receive an annual pension of about $85,000, according to Business Insider. Republican Bryan Steil was elected in November to fill Ryan’s seat in Wisconsin’s first congressional district for the 116th Congress.

Ryan told CBS’s John Dickerson on “Face The Nation” that he plans to use his retirement to “hunt, fish, mountain climb and ski” with his family and hinted that he may remain active in political advocacy.

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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