Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

PolitiFact: Glenn Beck comes close on Social Security, life expectancy

The statement

"When Social Security started, age expectancy for the average man was 58. It was 62 — 62 for women."

Glenn Beck, Feb. 16 on his television show

The ruling

To show that Social Security today is not what President Franklin D. Roosevelt intended when he signed it into law in 1935, talk show host Glenn Beck claimed that its creators may have designed it so that many people would not live long enough to receive the benefits.

His point was that Social Security was not meant to benefit as many people as it does today. Indeed, Beck went on to say that if Roosevelt had passed the law now, the starting age would be around 80 years old, due to longer life expectancy.

We wondered if Beck was right about life expectancy in the 1930s.

Indeed, he was correct. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which tracks birth and death data, says that a man born in 1935, on average, lived until he was 60; a woman typically lived until she was 64. So Beck's claims were just off slightly. And Beck was correct that an average person would die before Social Security took effect.

What about Beck's implication that the age was chosen so the majority of Americans would never receive their Social Security benefits? Was FDR making this calculation?

Probably not, said Edward Berkowitz, a professor on Public Policy at George Washington University and author of several books on Social Security. "I think that the age was chosen somewhat at random, certainly not to hedge actuarial bets."

Berkowitz thought that an alternative explanation for the age choice was that the Germans had a similar program that the Americans used as a model. Berkowitz also pointed out that the median age might not reflect real life expectancy because the number was skewed by a large share of infant deaths. "After you survive infancy, life expectancy goes up."

Of course, we can't be sure what FDR was thinking, but for our purposes, Beck's statement is off by just a couple of years and his overall point is right that life expectancy was below the retirement age of 65. That's close enough to earn a True.

Alex Holt, Times staff writer For more rulings, go to PolitiFact.com.

PolitiFact: Glenn Beck comes close on Social Security, life expectancy 03/09/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 9, 2010 10:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. MLB umpires wear wristbands to protest 'abusive player behavior'

    Ml

    Major League Baseball umpires wore white wristbands during games Saturday, protesting "abusive player behavior" after Detroit second baseman Ian Kinsler was fined but not suspended for his recent verbal tirade against ump Angel Hernandez.

    Home plate umpire D.J. Rayburn wears a wristband to protest "abusive player behavior" on umpires by players as Rayburn heads to his position to call the first inning of a baseball game between the Milwaukee Brewers and and the Colorado Rockies late Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Denver. [Associated Press]
  2. Tropical Storm Harvey could regroup but stay clear of Florida

    Weather

    The remnants of former Tropical Storm Harvey could rebound while two other systems brewing in the Atlantic Ocean are unlikely to develop into severe weather.

    The remnants of former Tropical Storm Harvey could rebound while two other systems brewing in the Atlantic Ocean are unlikely to develop, according to the National Hurricane Center. [National Hurricane Center]
  3. Fatal hit and run closes section of Nebraska Avenue

    Accidents

    TAMPA — Police are investigating a fatal hit and run crash early Sunday morning on Nebraska Avenue.

  4. Sunday Conversation: Roberto Torres talks immigration

    Human Interest

    YBOR CITY

    Roberto Torres stands as one of the city's most impressive rising entrepreneurs. The owner of Blind Tiger Cafes, Black & Denim clothing company and CoWork Ybor has expanded his reach with locations at Tampa International Airport and The Morrison, a new mixed use development in the SoHo District. Torres, …

    Roberto Torres receives his American Dream award from U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor on Aug. 15.
  5. Tampa police officer shoots man in Ybor

    Crime

    A Tampa police officer shot a man while investigating a trespassing call at a vacant house on the eastern edge Ybor City early this morning, police officials said.

    Daniel Olinger, 68, was shot by an officer investigating a tresspassing call early Sunday morning. [Tampa Police]