I retired from teaching in the public schools at the age of 51. I had taught for 31 years. Believe me when I say, that is a long time teaching in the public schools. I could have stayed longer, but at the time, I was ready to do something different. With my teacher retirement, I was able to start a different career. I became a flight attendant for American Airlines. Then at the age of 54, I began teaching at the college level...I loved it. Challenging, interesting--I wished I had always been there.
Anyway, after ten years at that, physical problems forced me to retire. I began getting my social security at the age of 62. I needed it then because of broken bones and the inability to drive--I would not have survived financially if I had not been able to retire at that age and after 44 years of working and paying into the system receive my social security benefit.
I believe that the system is as it should be. There are levels of retirement. If a person is able to work until he is 65, 66, 67, or 70, there are financial gains or benefits for that. After the age of 62, the retirement age should be based on the person's ability to continue to work either physically or mentally.
Many people choose to retire when they are eligible for private or public pension benefits, although some are forced to retire when physical conditions don't allow the person to work any more (by illness or accident) or as a result of legislation concerning their position.
Social Security has made a tremendous difference in my life. Since I am now 65, I am able to use medicare and its programs. What a boon for me!
Mentally, I would have still been able to work. Based on certain physical problems, I eventually might have been able to continue, but it was the in between time that made it impossible.
Keep the system as it is. Even though people do live longer, it does not mean that they are physically able to work at the same level that they once did or at all. The staggered age retirement system allows people to work as long as they can and not worry about struggling to get up and go to work when they really are not able.
Retirement can be a necessity or a choice. Most people want to work. It gives a reason for getting out of bed each day and a psychological boost. Few people just want to live off of the system. So again, I say leave the staggered system alone so that people can choose when it best for them to retire.