For Mark Roberts’ Use:

As the US emerges from a rough recession and continues its rocky recovery, a new reality has emerged for many of the nation’s seniors. Gone are the days of automatic retirement at age 65; many of today’s seniors are facing vastly different economic conditions from the previous generation of retirees. In response to these conditions, new trends are emerging.

For one thing, more seniors are continuing to work past the age they may have expected to retire. About one-third of those aged 65 to 69 are still working, and that percentage is expected to keep rising. The number of workers over age 69 is also expected to increase. The large number of seniors in the workforce is forcing many changes both in the workplace and in society in general. Incomes are not expected to rise any time soon, either, for any demographic of citizens. With taxes headed higher and expected to stay that way indefinitely, seniors can’t count on bringing home as much of their paychecks as they did in the past. For many this will push back their expected retirement dates even farther.

Social programs like Medicare and Social Security are also facing a multitude of changes. At present time the average senior receives more in Medicare benefits than they pay in, making this form of public health care a great bargain. However, the great difference between Medicare tax revenue and actual spending translates into a huge federal deficit. As lawmakers work to resolve this problem and reduce the deficit, seniors will see changes in how their health care is managed. This restructuring may involve more preventive care, free public wellness programs, increases in coordinated care, and a heavier emphasis on aging-at-home programs.

Social security, on the other hand, faces relatively minor adjustments with one possible exception. The traditional method of calculating cost of living adjustments may be replaced with a new price index system. In most cases this will result in smaller Social Security checks for seniors if the new chained CPI system is adopted. The AARP is currently fighting against the implementation of this measure, but if they fail will push to increase benefits for low-income seniors through greater taxation on high-income taxpayers.