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Geeks on pensions

6 March 2017

The Prime Minister, Bill English, has indicated that he's considering a hike in the entitlement age for National Superannuation eligibility. This could result in lots of baby-boomer geeks having to work for perhaps as many as five extra years before retiring.

Is this really reasonable?

I know that my own penchant for programming and IT work significantly decayed once I hit 40 and I suspect most of the best are probably well "past peak programmer" by their 50s. How will these people manage to sustain employment into their mid/late 60's?

We've all read the news stories and articles in which it's made very clear that those who are used to pulling down a hefty salary in a senior tech position find it very hard to find work after they hit their mid 40s and quite often end up having to face a career change and huge loss of income if they are made redundant.

So won't hiking the entitlement age for Super simply put more people on the dole queue?

At the same time as hinting that we'll be working an extra 5 years before we can retire, English has also pretty much discounted the likelihood that Super payments will be means-tested.

Sounds very right-wing doesn't it?

Seems incredibly unfair to me that we may well see blue-collar workers being forced to keep toiling away, often in jobs that are hard on the body, whilst even the richest millionaire will get his weekly stipend without question once he hits the entitlement age.

To be fair however, the health and fitness of a 65-year-old today is far, far greater than was the case for our grandparents' generation.

I recall that my grandparents were quite frail and slow at 65. I doubt they could have really held down a paid position of any significance due to this.

For whatever reason, most of us who now approach 65 are still relatively fit, healthy and active. I'm pretty sure that a good percentage of 65-year-olds could carry on working if they had to and if there were jobs available.

With this in mind, does it make sense to raise the entitlement age to something that better reflects the point where working becomes less practical due to the effects of age?

I qualify for Super in under a year's time but unless there's a huge change in my own personal circumstances, I won't be taking it.

Through my own sweat and toil, I am able to pay the rent, put food in the fridge and support my wife and myself -- so why should I become a burden on society? How could I (or anyone) feel good about accepting a weekly stipend from taxpayers when we still have unacceptable levels of child poverty and a health system that fails to meet the needs of many who rely on it?

I dare say that there are more than a few who, after reading this, will think I'm crazy. Why not take the money and give myself more time to enjoy the twilight years of my life?

Well I guess it's because I'm lucky and I enjoy what I do, so I'd be doing it even if I "retired" at 65.

Sadly, there are many people who are not lucky enough to be in my position and for whom work is a penance that they may have to endure for another five years.

What do readers think?

Should Super be means-tested? Is it obscene that even the super-rich get a handout paid for by the toils of the super-poor? Is it acceptable to expect people to work until they're 70 years of age, even if they're low skill workers whose hard work has already worn out their tired bodies?

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