Olaf Scholz is in favor of citizens not retiring until they are 67. The chancellor has thus triggered a debate. We asked our readers what they think of this request. Many are outraged.

Olaf Scholz (SPD) would like Germans to work as long as possible. “It is important to increase the proportion of those who can really work until retirement age,” said the Chancellor to the newspapers of the Funke media group.

The retirement age is to be raised to 67 by 2029. It is currently 65 years and 11 months for people born in 1957.

Baden-Württemberg’s Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann has also spoken out in favor of retirement as late as possible. Fewer and fewer workers would have to finance more and more pensioners. In addition, there is a shortage of skilled workers, said the Greens on Tuesday in Stuttgart.

In fact, many Germans retire at the age of 63 or 64. This is shown by figures from the Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB). In 2021, every third person took advantage of the so-called “pension at 63”.

The concept enables those who have been insured for many years to draw their pension early without deductions. This possibility was introduced at the request of the SPD, it is a prestige project of the Chancellor’s party.

Now Scholz, of all people, has started a debate in the other direction. Work longer if at all possible. How is his request received by the people in Germany?

We asked our readers. Robert Scholz, who worked for years as a tiler and stove builder, is outraged. “I had to stop working at the age of 57 due to various health problems,” he tells FOCUS online.

“Which employer can employ a tiler who can no longer kneel? And whose back is irreparably damaged from the lumbar spine up to the cervical vertebrae?” He keeps emphasizing that his job is physically demanding.

This is precisely why the craftsman considers what his namesake suggested to be “fantasies”. “Only those who have never worked physically can trumpet something like that into the world,” he says.

Annette Smith knows what tiler Scholz is talking about. She has a job that not only demands a lot from her physically, but also mentally. Smith is 53 years old and a registered nurse.

She has been in care for 35 years. “I am currently working with palliative care patients who are partially ventilated or who need oxygen regularly,” she writes in an email to our editors.

Smith can’t imagine retiring until he’s 67. “I’ve already had two burn-outs and I’m not even talking about spinal problems. Every day I go to work in pain,” she says. “And I’m supposed to keep doing that for another ten years.” The tone of her e-mail alone suggests that retiring at 63 could also be difficult for Smith.

“Working in this job until 67 or even longer with physical and mental problems, you retire injured and sick and don’t really get anything out of it,” says Smith. She thinks that for people in jobs like hers, retiring at 67 is utopian.

Other messages that have reached our editorial team sound similar. They all come from nurses. And they all have the same tenor: in nursing, retirement at 67 is almost impossible.

Markus Kurth, the Greens’ pension expert, sees it that way too. He told the “Augsburger Allgemeine” that it will not be possible for a civil engineer or a geriatric nurse to work in these professions into old age.

Kurth advocates, among other things, a partial pension from the age of 60, where those affected continue to work, for example with a reduced number of hours. “This is the only way to take away people’s fear that they will have to work longer,” he told the newspaper.

Working until the age of 67 – Bernd Mauersberger knows what it’s like. According to his own statement, he had been working for 51 years and four months. Mauersberger was a truck driver and has been a pensioner for four years.

“The fact that I worked until I was 67 was voluntary, but born out of necessity,” he says to FOCUS online. He could have retired at 63. “But my pension would have been so low that I would not have been able to live on it as a single person. Even at over 65 it would have been pretty close.”

For Mauersberger, one thing is certain: It is not age that decides when a person retires, “but what you get as a pension and whether you can make a living from it at all”. The former truck driver cites other arguments that, in his opinion, speak against general retirement at 67.

“Since we are all different people, with different jobs and incomes, there can be no one-size-fits-all solution to the problem. A lot of them don’t make it at all because of their health,” he says.

Anja Piel from the German Federation of Trade Unions recently complained about this. “Many employees are already unable to work until they are 65 or even 67,” she said in an interview with ZDF.

But she is convinced that this could change. To do this, employers would have to improve working conditions “and also change their hiring behavior”. Because that is also shown by the messages we have received from our readers. There are certainly people who would like to work until they are 67 – or even longer.

Petra Falk, for example, “retired at the statutory retirement age,” writes the 67-year-old. She is a trained office clerk and has worked in numerous companies.

Falk was “reluctant” to settle into retirement. “A former colleague called and said he could use me and whether I could see myself continuing to work for his company. I could! And I wanted!”

The 67-year-old reports that her performance would have brought her back to work. “But that’s the exception. HR managers are not at all willing to recognize and use the unused resources of ‘young’ retirees”.

She thinks that the “back to the job market” needs to be made easier. Scholz has now addressed the issue of early retirement. However, he did not propose any concrete measures to reduce the high rate.

Unlike the Social Association Germany: Its chairwoman Michaela Engelmeier said that more had to be done so that older people could work longer – “e.g. through retraining or better working conditions”.

It is clear that Germany is facing difficult times. The baby boomer cohorts will reach retirement age in the coming years. This will in all likelihood exacerbate the skills shortage.