Pessimism about the longevity of the Social Security system runs high. Only 15 percent of the U.S. population believes the program doesn’t need any changes to be viable.[1] The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) polled its leaders on one option to aid the program: raising the retirement age. Eighty-seven percent favored the adjustment.

“The system was created at a time when life expectancy was at a much lower age,” said Joel Hunter, Senior Pastor of Northland Church. “The original intent was for a safety net, not early retirement. Let’s strengthen the system for those who really need it.”

While evangelical leaders agree on this modification over two times more than the general population,[2] some hinted that raising the retirement age could not be the only fix.

“Raising the retirement age seems like one aspect of correcting a trouble government program,” said Berten Waggoner, National Director of Vineyard USA. “It is evident that social security cannot be sustained as it is presently structured.”

Carl Nelson, President of Transform Minnesota, agreed that the age limit should be higher and offered another option for saving the social security system: “expand immigration into America to grow the number of taxpayers paying into the social security pool.”

Currently there are 2.9 workers for each Social Security beneficiary. By 2036, there will be 2.1 workers for each beneficiary. There will be almost twice as many older Americans in 2036 than there are today.[3]

NAE President Leith Anderson said, “The required retirement age in the Old Testament was 50 years old (Numbers 8:25). There was no American-style Social Security, but there were provisions to provide for those who retired. The United States has raised the standard retirement age from 65 to 67, and it’s looking like time to go with a bigger number.”

The Evangelical Leaders Survey is a monthly poll of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals. They include the CEOs of denominations and representatives of a broad array of evangelical organizations including missions, universities, publishers and churches.

[1] Washington Post-ABC News Poll. Available from

[2] Ibid.

[3] U.S. Social Security Administration Basic Facts. Available from