AIR Index: Does 65 Truly Define “Older Americans”?
A range of policies serving America’s older citizens uses 65 as the cutoff age, but that number no longer means what it once did. The normal retirement age for Social Security, for example, has already risen from 65 to 66 and is scheduled to rise again soon to 67. In the issue brief, Is 65 the Best Cutoff for Defining “Older Americans”?, experts with AIR’s Center on Aging look at the historical use of age 65 in policymaking and pore over the research on socioeconomic characteristics to see if its use is still appropriate today. This index highlights the brief's key facts.
Year the United States passed and implemented Social Security, adopting age 65, which was also being used by other countries: 1935
Year that Medicare, which also uses the same eligibility age, passed: 1965
Average age retired workers start receiving Social Security benefits in 2009: 63.8
In 1970: 64.2
In 1945: 69.5
Years of life expectancy in 1940:
For men: 61.4
For women: 65.7
Years of life expectancy in 2012:
For men: 76.3
For women: 81.1
Percent of self-identifying retirees in 2014 who still work for pay: 27
Percent of current workers who expect to keep working in retirement: 65
Source: Is 65 the Best Cutoff for Defining “Older Americans”? (2015)