Workers Who Take Early Social Security Retirement Benefits

TitleWorkers Who Take Early Social Security Retirement Benefits
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsZissimopoulos, JM, Panis, C, Hurd, MD
InstitutionWashington, DC, RAND Labor and Population Program; Prepared for the Social Security Administration
KeywordsRetirement Planning and Satisfaction, Social Security

The objectives of this analysis are to shed light on the differences between workers who take early Social Security retirement benefits and those that postpone claiming, and to identify the types of individuals that would be particularly vulnerable to an increase in the Early Entitlement Age (EEA) above its current level of age 62. Generally speaking, we find workers who accept early retirement benefits are less likely to be college educated, less likely to be in management positions or to be professionals and more likely to have left the labor force before age 62. There are no large differences in financial wealth between Takers and Postponers, except for in pension wealth. Takers are much less likely to be covered by a pension plan and have lower pension wealth than Postponers. Moreover, while quite healthy on average, Takers are more likely to be in poorer health than workers who postpone benefits. This difference is particularly important for understanding the impact of raising the EEA. Individuals with a limited ability to continue working past age 62 due to health problems may experience substantial welfare losses in case of an increase in the EEA. Among a particularly vulnerable group of Takers, those in poor health and without pension entitlement, we find that more than half have a physically demanding job. These workers are particularly likely to apply for DI benefits in case of an increase of the EEA, which would add to rather than reduce total Social Security outlays.


RDA 2000-010

Endnote Keywords

Retirement Planning/Early Retirement/Social Security

Endnote ID


Citation Key5500