Limited gains from raising super access age

Raising the superannuation access age beyond 60 would negatively affect many people and provide few economic or social benefits, according to a doctor of law.

Deakin Law School superannuation law expert Dr Rami Hanegbi argued such policies would force people to continue working to the detriment of some of them.

“Laws that raise the access age to above 60 and have the effect of leaving many workers in a position where they have no viable choice but to continue to work are a policy change likely to have significant consequences,” Hanegbi said.

“For example, there are those who are constrained from working longer due to the physically demanding nature of their work, such as bricklayers.”

However, he pointed out even those working in industries not requiring significant physical exertion would  bear the brunt of such a policy move.

“While this could bring some economic benefits, these are likely to be limited. This will be the case whether future labour markets are tight or slack, though in the latter case the benefits will be even more limited,” he said.

In his paper, “Should the superannuation access age be raised?”, he said while life expectancy has risen, the rise in “healthy life years” has been substantially lower.

“As a result, raising the superannuation access age from say 60 to 65 would dramatically reduce the percentage of one’s life spent in the ‘golden years of retirement’ where one is both retired and in good health,” he said.

“The negative impacts of such a policy on people’s right to self-determination, as well as on widespread confidence in the superannuation system, are also important consequences of legislating such a policy.”

He noted such policy changes should be based on solid evidence that proved such laws would enhance people’s welfare, evidence that was lacking in proposals to raise the super access age.

“Compulsory superannuation has been a part of the retirement landscape in Australia for more than 20 years, with the availability of retirement funds having a marked effect not only on taxpayers, but also their families and other members of the community,” he said.

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