Social security claiming of the elderly in the United States

TitleSocial security claiming of the elderly in the United States
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsPeng, Y-I
AdvisorBruce, N
Number of Pages124
UniversityUniversity of Washington
Thesis TypeDissertation
KeywordsEmployment and Labor Force, Health Conditions and Status, Pensions, Public Policy, Retirement Planning and Satisfaction, Social Security

This dissertation comprehensively studies the behavior of Social Security retirement benefit claiming of the elderly in the United States, using data from the 1992-2006 Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and the supplement "Prospective Social Security Wealth Measures of Pre-retirees". This dissertation begins by modeling the claiming behavior of Social Security retirement beneficiaries under a framework incorporating the incentives for married couples. For individuals who retire by age 62 (the earliest entitlement age), the results indicate that the expected amount of benefit is a strong predictor for the timing of claiming. However, life expectancy, consistent with previous studies, is not a critical determinant of the claiming decision alone, even after taking into account the dependent spouse's longevity expectation. The second chapter models the claiming behavior among individuals who have not retired by age 62 jointly with their retirement behavior. The results show a high correlation between the two decisions. By breaking down the sample, it is found that claiming is attached to retirement; after withdrawal from the labor force and with no labor income, retirees would rely on the Social Security benefits, and liquidity holding becomes a major factor explaining how soon retirees claim their benefits. However, for late-retiring workers, the Social Security retirement benefits do not give much retirement incentive. The third chapter of this dissertation brings in one of the most important Social Security mechanisms, the Social Security earnings test, and takes advantage of its recent reform, the abolishment of the test above the Normal Retirement Age (NRA) in year 2000, to analyze the role of the earnings test in the decisions of claiming and retirement. The earnings test is found to be a crucial factor that links the dates of them.

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Short TitleSocial security claiming of the elderly in the United States
Citation Key6048