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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman January 8, 2024

Donald Trump omits context on Nikki Haley’s comments about US retirement age being too low

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  • This is missing context. Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley did say the United States’ retirement age is too low, but she specified that it should increase in line with life expectancy and only for younger people, not current Social Security beneficiaries or those nearing retirement.

Days before voting starts in the Iowa caucuses, former President Donald Trump has his eyes trained on Nikki Haley, his closest Republican rival in the 2024 presidential campaign. 

Trump targeted the former South Carolina governor during a Jan. 6 campaign stop in Newton, Iowa, and claimed she wants to cut Social Security and Medicare and raise the retirement age. 

"Nikki says the retirement age at 65 is way too low, it must be much higher," Trump said of his former U.N. ambassador.

That characterization lacks context. Haley has recently said the federal U.S. retirement age, at which Americans would receive Social Security and Medicare benefits, is "way too low." But she said it should be raised in line with longer life expectancy, and she did not support changing the age for current beneficiaries or those nearing retirement.

In an Aug. 24 Bloomberg Markets interview, Haley said the U.S. should increase the retirement age to help prevent Social Security and Medicare from becoming insolvent. 

"The way we deal with it, is we don't touch anyone's retirement or anyone who's been promised in, but we go to people like my kids in their twenties, when they're coming into the system, and we say the rules have changed," Haley told Joe Mathieu, a Washington correspondent for Bloomberg TV and radio. "We change retirement age to reflect life expectancy. Instead of cost-of-living increases, we do it based on inflation. We limit the benefits on the wealthy and we expand Medicare advantage plans."

When Mathieu asked which "right age" she would recommend, Haley said it would need to be calculated, but that 65 "is way too low," and needs to be increased according to life expectancy. 

Although Haley cited 65 as the retirement age, that’s for people born before 1960. In 1983, Congress upped the age when Americans can receive full retirement benefits through Social Security from 65 to 67 for those born in 1960 or later.

Featured Fact-check

U.S. life expectancy dropped during the COVID-19 pandemic, but has shown signs of rebounding, increasing from 76.4 years in 2021 to 77.5 in 2022, according to federal data.

Here are other instances in which Haley discussed the U.S.’ retirement age during her presidential campaign:

  • Sept. 22 at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics in Manchester, New Hampshire: "I’ll raise the retirement age — only for younger people who are just entering the system. Americans are living 15 years longer than they were in the 1930s. If we don’t get out of the 20th century mindset, Social Security and Medicare won’t survive the first half of the 21st century."

  • Nov. 8 at the third Republican presidential debate in Miami: "Those that have been promised, should keep it. But for, like my kids in their 20s, you go and you say, ‘We are going to change the rules.’ You change the retirement age for them." 

On Medicare, Haley has proposed expanding Medicare Advantage, a type of Medicare health plan offered by approved private companies. The government pays the companies to cover Medicare benefits.

Our ruling

Trump claimed that Haley "says the retirement age at 65 is way too low."

This is missing context. When Haley said the federal retirement age of 65 was "way too low" she wasn’t talking about current Social Security beneficiaries or people who are close to retiring. She would propose raising the retirement age for younger people, in line with longer life expectancy. 

Trump’s statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details or takes things out of context. We rate his claim Half True.

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Donald Trump omits context on Nikki Haley’s comments about US retirement age being too low

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