Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Growth in Social Security Benefits Among the Retirement Age Population from Increases in the Cap on Covered Earnings


Author Info

  • Alan L. Gustman
  • Thomas Steinmeier
  • Nahid Tabatabai


This paper investigates how increases in the level of maximum earnings subject to the Social Security payroll tax have affected Social Security benefits and taxes. The analysis uses data from the Health and Retirement Study to ask how different the present value of own benefits and taxes would be for the cohort born from 1948 to 1953 (ages 51 to 56 in 2004) if they faced the lower cap on the payroll tax that faced those born twelve and twenty four years earlier, but otherwise had the same earnings stream and faced the same benefit formula. We find that for those in the Early Boomer cohort of the Health and Retirement Study, ages 51 to 56 in 2004, that after adjusting for nominal wage growth, benefits were increased by 1.5 percent by the increase in the payroll tax ceiling compared to the cohort twelve years older, and by 3.7 percent over the benefits under the payroll tax ceiling for the cohort twenty four years older. Tax receipts were increased by 5.3 and 10.7 percent over tax receipts that would have been collected under the tax ceilings that applied to the cohorts 12 and 24 years older respectively. About 25 percent of the additional tax revenues created by the increase in the payroll tax cap between the Early Boomer cohort and those twelve years older was diverted to increased benefits. Similarly, about 31 percent of the additional tax revenues created by the increase in the payroll tax cap between the Early Boomer cohort and those twenty four years older took the form of increased benefits. Results are also presented separately for men and women, for those in the top quartile of earners, and for those at the tax ceiling throughout their work lives.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16501.

as in new window
Date of creation: Oct 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as "The Growth in Social Security Benefits Among the Retirement Age Population from Increases in the Cap on Covered Earnings", Social Security Bulletin 72(2), May, 2012: 49 - 62.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16501

Note: AG LS PE
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:
More information through EDIRC

Related research


Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:


No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.


Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier & Nahid Tabatabai, 2011. "The Effects of Changes in Women's Labor Market Attachment on Redistribution Under the Social Security Benefit Formula," NBER Working Papers 17439, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.


This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.


Access and download statistics


When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16501. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.