About two-thirds of newly retired Social Security beneficiaries said they were healthy enough to continue working, according to a 1982 survey by the Social Security Administration.
The survey showed that of the one-third who cited some work limitations, almost half said they could work part time or occasionally.
The survey, covering a sample of persons who retired on Social Security in 1980 and 1981 at age 62 or over, also found that 97 percent were not bedridden or wheelchair-bound.
More than four-fifths of men and women said they spent less than a week in bed ill in the previous 12 months.
Congress in 1983 voted to increase the normal Social Security retirement age, when full benefits are paid, from 65 to 67 after the turn of the century. Early retirement at reduced benefits would continue to be allowed at age 62.
Opponents said many people who retire at age 62 or 65 are physically incapable of working and would be subjected to hardship by the new rules. But proponents said health advances left a large proportion of the aged capable of working.
The survey provides ammunition for both sides, while showing that most retirees believe themselves able to work.
There were indications that men and women retiring at age 62 may have more health limitations than those who wait longer. Only 57 percent of men who retired at age 62, and 66 percent of women, said they had no health limitations, while among those who waited until age 63, the number who cited no limitations totaled 69 percent among men and 73 percent among women.
The survey reflected the retirees' assessments of their capacity to do various things 18 to 30 months after their retirement. Only a handful reported that they could not perform basic functions, such as standing for two hours (4 percent), stooping (2 percent), walking two blocks (1 percent) or climbing a flight of stairs (1 percent).
A survey of recent male retirees in 1969 found that 45 percent reported themselves as having no work limitation, in contrast to the current survey.