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How Much Do Households Really Lose By Claiming Social Security at Age 62?

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  • Wei Sun
  • Anthony Webb
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    Abstract

    Individuals can claim Social Security at any age from 62 to 70 although most claim at 62 or soon thereafter. Those who delay claiming receive increases that are approximately actuarially fair. We show that expected present value calculations substantially understate both the optimal claim age and the losses resulting from early claiming because they ignore the value of the additional longevity insurance acquired as a result of delay. Using numerical optimization techniques, we illustrate that for plausible preference parameters, the optimal age for non-liquidity constrained single individuals and married men to claim benefit is between 67 and 70. We calculate that Social Security Equivalent Income, the amount by which benefits payable at suboptimal ages must be increased so that a household is indifferent between claiming at those ages and the optimal combination of ages, can be as high as 19.0 percent.

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    File URL: http://crr.bc.edu/working-papers/how-much-do-households-really-lose-by-claiming-social-security-at-age-62/
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Center for Retirement Research in its series Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College with number wp2009-11.

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    Length: 32 pages
    Date of creation: Apr 2009
    Date of revision: Apr 2009
    Handle: RePEc:crr:crrwps:wp2009-11

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    1. Gustman, Alan L. & Steinmeier, Thomas L., 2005. "The social security early entitlement age in a structural model of retirement and wealth," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 441-463, February.
    2. Mariacristina De Nardi & Eric French & John Bailey Jones, 2006. "Differential Mortality, Uncertain Medical Expenses, and the Saving of Elderly Singles," NBER Working Papers 12554, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Pang, Gaobo & Warshawsky, Mark, 2010. "Optimizing the equity-bond-annuity portfolio in retirement: The impact of uncertain health expenses," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 198-209, February.
    4. Courtney Coile & Peter Diamond & Jonathan Gruber & Alain Jousten, 1999. "Delays in Claiming Social Security Benefits," NBER Working Papers 7318, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Steven A. Sass & Wei Sun & Anthony Webb, 2007. "Why Do Married Men Claim Social Security Benefits So Early? Ignorance or Caddishness?," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2007-17, Center for Retirement Research, revised Oct 2007.
    6. Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324 Elsevier.
    7. Michael D. Hurd & James P. Smith & Julie M. Zissimopoulos, 2004. "The effects of subjective survival on retirement and Social Security claiming," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(6), pages 761-775.
    8. Jeffrey Brown & Jeffrey B. Liebman & Joshua Pollet, 2002. "Appendix. Estimating Life Tables That Reflect Socioeconomic Differences In Mortality," NBER Chapters, in: The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform, pages 447-458 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Jeffrey R. Brown, 2000. "Differential Mortality and the Value of Individual Account Retirement Annuities," NBER Working Papers 7560, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Michael D. Hurd & Kathleen McGarry, 2002. "The Predictive Validity of Subjective Probabilities of Survival," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(482), pages 966-985, October.
    11. Raj Chetty, 2006. "A New Method of Estimating Risk Aversion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1821-1834, December.
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    13. Hugo Benitez-Silva & Debra S. Dwyer & Frank Heiland & Warren C. Sanderson, 2006. "Retirement and Social Security Reform Expectations: A Solution to the New Early Retirement Puzzle," Department of Economics Working Papers 06-05, Stony Brook University, Department of Economics.
    14. H. Benitez-Silva & F. Heiland, 2008. "Early claiming of social security benefits and labour supply behaviour of older Americans," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(23), pages 2969-2985.
    15. Saul Pleeter & John T. Warner, 2001. "The Personal Discount Rate: Evidence from Military Downsizing Programs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 33-53, March.
    16. Courtney Coile & Kevin Milligan, 2009. "How Household Portfolios Evolve After Retirement: The Effect Of Aging And Health Shocks," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 55(2), pages 226-248, 06.
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    19. repec:crr:issbrf:ib2005-35 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Dushi, Irena & Webb, Anthony, 2004. "Household annuitization decisions: simulations and empirical analyses," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(02), pages 109-143, July.
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    Cited by:
    1. Sanders, Lisanne & De Waegenaere, Anja & Nijman, Theo E., 2013. "When can insurers offer products that dominate delayed old-age pension benefit claiming?," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 134-149.
    2. Sanders, E.A.T., 2011. "Annuity market imperfections," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-4960701, Tilburg University.

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