I use a regression discontinuity design to investigate the causal relationship between Social
Security eligibility age and the health outcomes and health behaviors of elderly individuals.
Specifically, I examine changes when individuals attain the Earliest Eligibility Age (EEA) of
62. Given the aging of the U.S. population and the heated debate about whether the EEA should
be increased to solve Social Security’s fiscal imbalance problem, understanding such a
relationship is important. I use data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to explore
this relationship. I find that at the EEA, the probability of receiving Social Security benefits
increases by over 30 percentage points. However, there is no evidence that the EEA impacts
health. This finding coincides with the idea that health is a stock, the change in which is slow.
There is little evidence that the EEA influences mental health. I also show suggestive evidence
that when people reach the EEA, they reduce their smoking. I find that males drink more
frequently when they reach the EEA. Retirement might be one of the main mechanisms behind
the changes in health behaviors.