Tuesday, June 17, 2008

New paper: “Are people claiming Social Security benefits later?”

In a new paper from the Center on Retirement Research at Boston College, Dan Muldoon and Richard W. Kopcke argue that SSA statistics on Social Security claiming ages are misleading. These statistics, published in the annual Statistical Supplement, indicate that the percentage of individuals claiming benefits at age 62 has remained roughly constant over time. However, these statistics may be biased due to the effects of different cohort sizes.

The SSA statistics show the percentage of all individuals claiming benefits in a given year who claim at age 62. Thus, the population the SSA statistics examine come from a number of different cohorts ranging from ages 62 up to 70. If cohorts are of different sizes in different years – in particular, if younger cohorts are somewhat larger than older cohorts – the average claiming age can remain the same even if the likelihood of any given individual claiming at age 62 declines.

Muldoon and Kopcke use internal SSA data to examine the distribution of claiming ages by birth cohort. They find that

the proportion of eligible workers claiming retired-worker benefits at age 62 drops significantly for both men and women. Of those who turned 62 in 1985, 62 percent of women and 51 percent of men claimed benefits as soon as they became available.7 But for those who turned 62 in 2006, the comparable figures were only 48 percent of women and 43 percent of men. These trends differ significantly from those using claim year data, which show little change over the same 22-year period.

This increase in claiming ages is consistent with declining Social Security benefits, due to increases in the full retirement age, and falling traditional pension coverage. Click here to read the whole paper.

No comments: