Australians are nowhere near ready to wait until 70 years to retire if the reality of YourLifeChoices members is anything to go by.
Our Insights Survey 2018 revealed that only 7.8 per cent of members worked until they were 70 or older before hanging up their hats.
More than three-quarters, or 76 per cent, had retired by the time they reached 65. The remaining 16 per cent were between the ages of 66 and 69 when they stopped working.
The notion that Australians should wait until they become septuagenarians to become eligible for the Age Pension is a zombie measure from the Federal Budget 2015.
While the Government has postponed introducing the measure in legislation to the Parliament, YourLifeChoices managed to get Treasurer Scott Morrison to admit last month that it was still government policy.
The staged increase in pension age from 65 onwards applies to Australians born after 30 June 1958 who wish to claim welfare retirement benefits from 1 July 2025. The intention is that by 1 July 2035 you would have to be at least 70 before becoming eligible for Centrelink payments. In other words, if today you are around 53 years old, or younger, you will have to work at least another 17 years before claiming an Age Pension.
The Coalition Government is arguing for an increase in the eligibility age to 70 because it says that Australians are living longer and their later lives will be healthier than those of previous generations.
If it succeeds in having the threshold lifted, Australia will have the oldest retirement age in the world.
However, with current Labor policy being opposed to lifting the Age Pension entitlement age, the Coalition will face an uphill battle to introduce the measure.
As Labor Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services Jenny Macklin exclusively told YourLifeChoices in April: “We are strongly opposed to this. It is unfair. There is evidence that it would be harsh, particularly on those with difficult physical jobs, farmers, builders, nurses. There is also evidence from the US of a big gap between high-income earners and low-income earners in life expectancy.
“The proposal is very unfair as low-income people already have a lower life expectancy. The Government should take this legislation out of the Budget as it is grossly unfair. And the numbers show that 375,000 people would be hit in the first four years – an overall cut to the Age Pension of $3.6 billion.”
Figures from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) support the view that in the developed world, Australia would have the oldest retirement age.
The following graph from 2014 shows that in countries as diverse as Belgium and Turkey, the official retirement age for men is 60. At the other end of the spectrum, the countries with the oldest retirement age were Israel and Norway at 67.
Germany and Canada have flagged that they intend to increase pension entitlement age to 67 by 2029, according to a report in The Conversation. The Czech Republic, whose retirement age is officially 63, also intends to lift its threshold to 67, but its citizens will be able to wait it out until 2044.
The Actuarial Association of Europe explains that most countries develop retirement age policy together with official statistics and projections around longevity. Among the countries the association says are about to review pension ages are Denmark, Cyprus, France, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovak Republic and the UK.
However, even official projections of future pension ages in the rest of the world show that no country is predicted to have a threshold of 70 years any time before 2035, as the Coalition is proposing, according to The Conversation’s FactChecks.
Will you have to wait until you turn 67 or older before you become eligible for the Age Pension? Would you agree for the Age Pension to be paid only to those over 70 who were still fit to work? Do you think a medical assessment should be undertaken before a person aged 67 or older is denied an Age Pension?