Ben Shapiro

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Ben Shapiro goes on tirade demanding Social Security age be raised to 67—which it was in 1983

"Do manual labor at 66 and tell me how you feel.'


Katherine Huggins


Posted on Mar 13, 2024

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro’s rant against people in their mid to late 60s retiring has completely riled social media.

“Yesterday, I apparently broke the internet with the hot and spicy subject of….Social Security and retirement,” Shapiro said on Wednesday, adding that “Social Security is a Ponzi scheme that is 100% going to bankrupt the country.”

“It’s a free country – if you have the money to retire and you want to, that’s your choice,” he added. “But work is a large part of a fulfilling and purposeful life, and retirement as we know it today—sending the elderly out to pasture to wither away—is not how we were created to live.”

Shapiro’s hot take that “it’s insane that we haven’t raised the retirement age in the United States” went viral, racking up millions of views and widespread criticism.

It also was flagged by many people as wrong, given the U.S. long ago raised the age to what Shapiro was lobbying for.

“Ben Shapiro, a man who makes his living yelling DEBATE ME COWARD and grumbling about Barbie in YouTube videos, wants manual laborers to work until they drop dead,” quipped the Daily Beast’s Justin Baragona.

“This might be Ben Shapiro’s worst take ever, and that’s saying something,” wrote another person on X.

In the video clip, Shapiro argued that if the retirement age actually should be 65, then President Joe Biden—at 81 years old—would not be running for reelection.

“The retirement in the United States at which you start to receive Social Security and you are eligible for Medicare is 65,” Shapiro said. “Joe Biden has technically been eligible for Social Security and Medicare for 16 years and he wants to continue in office until he’s 86, which is 19 years past when he’d be eligible for retirement.”

While Medicare eligibility on the basis of age does begin at 65, full Social Security benefits are not available until age 67. Congress increased the full retirement age from 65 to 67 in 1983, a change that has fully been phased in. Individuals may still receive reduced retirement benefits as early as 62.

Shapiro argued that “no one in the United States should be retiring at 65 years old” and that “retirement itself is a stupid idea unless you have some sort of health problem.”

“When Franklin Delano Roosevelt established 65 as the retirement age, the average life expectancy was 63 years old,” he added. “Today, the average life expectancy in the United States is close to 80.”

Again, the threshold for full Social Security benefits is no longer 65, but 67.

Shapiro is correct that life expectancy has significantly increased since Social Security was first introduced.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, life expectancy dropped a bit in 2023 to 76 years. In contrast, the Social Security Administration notes that life expectancy at birth in 1930 was only 58 for men and 62 for women—below the 65-year threshold for retirement.

The Social Security Administration, however, argues on its website that life expectancy then was low due to a higher proportion of childhood deaths and that the majority of Americans “who made it to adulthood could expect to live to 65, and those who did live to 65 could look forward to collecting benefits for many years into the future.”

Regardless, the U.S. population was much smaller than, which is why many are concerned Social Security might become insolvent.

Shapiro slammed the “notion that if you have to raise the retirement age to 67 or 68, that everyone is going to fall apart,” adding that his parents are not retired—nor should they be.

“By the way, it’s disrespectful to people who are 67, 68, 69 years old to suggest that they are in the same shape as people who were 65 were in 1940, it’s not true at all,” he continued. “Have you met a 65-year-old lately? 65 year olds are not old in the United States, they’re not. 68-year-olds are not old in the United States.”

“Again, Joe Biden thinks he’s not old and that dude is running for president again and that dude actually is old and he’s 81,” Shapiro added.

The specific example of Biden being the poster child for capability in old age is odd, though, as Republicans across the board, including Shapiro, consider Biden too old to do his job.

Shapiro’s take was far from well-received on social media.

“Do manual labor at 66 and tell me how you feel the next day,” wrote one person.

“Rich coming from a dude who has likely never worked a real job in his life,” snarked another.

“Ben Shapiro should have to work split shifts at TGI Fridays until he’s 92 years old,” quipped someone else.

But Shapiro offered a compromise for some of the detractors.

“Fine, fine, I’ll make you a deal: we can keep the retirement age 65 so long as we make that retirement age mandatory for our elected officials,” he said Tuesday afternoon.

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*First Published: Mar 13, 2024, 11:50 am CDT