FACT CHECK: Ron DeSantis Makes Claims On Nikki Haley’s Position On Retirement Age And Life Expectancy In The U.S.
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis claimed during a Dec. 12 town hall that former U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley wants to raise the retirement age and that life expectancy is on the decline.
Haley has called for the retirement age to be raised for young people, such as individuals in their 20s, not for a uniform raising across all demographics. Life expectancy has begun to rebound after being on a downward trajectory due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
DeSantis appeared at a CNN town hall Dec. 12, where he criticized Trump on abortion, the border wall and COVID-19, according to The Associated Press. During the town hall, he also went after Haley for her positions on Social Security, USA Today reported.
DeSantis said that Haley claimed “the retirement age is way, way, way too low” and that “[l]ife expectancy is declining in this country.” (RELATED: Has Florida’s Unemployment Rate Remained At 2.8 Percent?)
“So, what she has said, Nikki Haley, she has claimed that the retirement age is way, way, way too low. That’s what she said. So, you got a lot of people that have worked hard their whole life. Life expectancy is declining in this country. It’s tragic. But it’s true,” DeSantis said. “So, to look at those demographic trends, and say that, you would jack it up, so that people are not going to be able to have benefits? I mean, I don’t know why she’s saying that. You got to look at the trends.”
DeSantis’ claims about Haley’s position on Social Security and life expectancy are missing context and misleading. Haley has repeatedly stated she would not touch entitlement benefits for people currently on Social Security.
“It’s the new ones coming in. It’s those in their 20s that are coming in. You’re coming to them and you’re saying, the game has changed. We’re going to do this completely differently,” Haley said in March 2023, according to CNN.
Haley said in September 2023, “I’ll raise the retirement age – only for younger people who are just entering the system” during a speech at St. Anselm College, according to MarketWatch.
“Americans are living 15 years longer than they were in the 1930s. If we don’t get out of the 20th century mindset, Social Security and Medicare won’t survive the first half of the 21st century,” Haley said.
NewsNation reported Dec. 7 that Haley “[b]elieves older Americans should not see cuts to their benefits and promised to keep programs intact for people who are in their 40s or older.”
“Wants to raise the retirement age for young adults ‘coming into the system’ in their 20s ‘so that it matches life expectancy,'” NewsNation reported. Haley also said during the Nov. 8 Republican primary debate that she wanted to raise the retirement age for people in their 20s, according to NBC News.
DeSantis’ claim on declining life expectancy needs context. Credible news reports have indicated that there was a drop-in life expectancy from 2019 to 2021. However, 2022 saw a rebound from the previous years, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC report found that in 2022, life expectancy increased by 1.1 years. This still has not overcome the 2.4 year deficit that was seen between 2019 and 2021. The reason for this decrease appears to have been mainly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, USA Today reported. (RELATED: Did RFK Jr. Meet With Then-President Trump To Lead A Vaccine Safety Commission?)
Elizabeth Arias, a researcher with the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, told CNN that COVID-19 deaths in 2022 were “not insubstantial.” For life expectancy to increase, there would need to be “another large decline” in COVID-19 mortality, she explained. Today, the CDC reports that the average lifespan for men is 73.5 while it is 79.3 for women.
Haley’s campaign put out a press release arguing that DeSantis’ claim about life expectancy was false, saying that “life expectancy dropped during COVID but rebounded last year.”
Nachama Soloveichick, communications director for the Haley campaign, told Check Your Fact that DeSantis “is the world’s biggest hypocrite and phony.”
“Ron DeSantis is the world’s biggest hypocrite and phony. In 2012, he called for raising the retirement age because people are living longer and Social Security is running out of money. In 2013, 2014, and 2015 he voted to raise the retirement age in Congress. Now he’s criticizing Nikki Haley because he’s desperate to save his failing campaign. Voters can smell a phony 100 miles away,” Soloveichick said.
Check Your Fact reached out to DeSantis’ campaign for comment and will update this article if a response is provided.
Elias Atienza and Joseph Caiseri contributed to this report.