Pamela Honeyghan

Baltimore, MD

I started working at Maryland General Hospital while in high school.  36 years later, I’m still working here as a patient care technician.  It’s a physically intensive job and also requires us to keep up with the latest medical technology.  An error—digital or medical—can put someone’s life at risk.

Such a physically demanding job takes a toll on a person. I worry that I won't be able to provide the quality care my patients need if I'm forced to work through my 60s. 

But I’m not going to be able to afford a dignified retirement soon.  We get a pension, but it’s just 5 percent of our annual pay.  Could you imagine if you took a 95 percent pay cut?  I’ve also been contributing 5 percent to my 401(k) while Maryland General does not contribute a dime.  Needless, to say there’s not very much in it.

That’s why I’m going to need Social Security.  And now Washington politicians are talking about raising the retirement age to 70 or even older.  Maybe they think everyone can work in their 70s because they have large staffs to do all their typing and driving for them.

But would they really trust themselves to be carrying patients between wards or measuring and delivering shots of powerful medicine when they’re 70 years old and have arthritis?  If they raise the retirement age, I’d have to retire early for the sake of my patients while living off 5% of my annual salary and hoping that the market doesn’t wreck my 401(k).

Raising the retirement age would impoverish me and endanger my patients.  Why does anyone think this would be a good idea?