The Potential Effects of Obesity on Social Security Claiming Behavior and Retirement Benefits.

TitleThe Potential Effects of Obesity on Social Security Claiming Behavior and Retirement Benefits.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsHurd, MD, Smith, JP, Zissimopoulos, JM
JournalJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
Date Published2018 Apr 16
ISSN Number1758-5368
Call Numberpubs_2004_Hurd_etal_JAE.pdf
KeywordsAged, Female, Humans, Life Expectancy, Male, Obesity, Pensions, Poverty, Social Class, Social Security, United States

OBJECTIVES: Obesity prevalence among Americans has increased for nearly three decades. We explore the relationship between the rise in obesity and Social Security retirement benefit claiming, a decision impacting nearly all aging Americans. Specifically, we investigate whether obesity can affect individuals' decision to claim benefits early, a choice that has important implications for financial security in retirement, particularly for those with lower socioeconomic status (SES).

METHOD: We use a microsimulation model called MINT6 (Modeling Income in the Near Term, version 6) to demonstrate the potential effects of obesity on subjective life expectancy and claiming behavior. We impute obesity status using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which describes the distribution of obesity prevalence within the United States by gender, poverty status, and race/ethnicity.

RESULTS: We find that the rise in obesity and the consequent incidence of obesity-related diseases may lead some individuals to make claiming decisions that lead to lower monthly and lifetime Social Security retirement benefits. Further, we find that the potential economic impact of this decision is larger for those with lower SES.

DISCUSSION: We present a behavioral perspective by addressing the potential effects that obesity can have on individuals' retirement decisions and their resulting Social Security retirement benefits.

User Guide Notes

Endnote Keywords

Social Security benefit claiming/Subjective Probabilities of Survival

Endnote ID


Alternate JournalJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
Citation Key6965
PubMed ID27044665