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The Social Security Retirement Earning Test,Retirement and Benefit Claiming

Author

Listed:
  • Alan L. Gustman

    (Dartmouth College and NBER)

  • Thomas L. Steimeier

    (Texas Tech University)

Abstract

This paper introduces the age at which Social Security benefits are claimed as an additional outcome in a structural model of retirement and wealth. The model is then used to simulate the effects of abolishing the remainder of the Social Security earnings test, between age 62 and the full retirement age. Estimates are based on data for married men from the first six waves of the Health and Retirement Study. From age 62 through full retirement age, the earnings test reduces the share working full time by about four percent of the married male population, which entails a reduction of about ten percent in the number of married males of that age at full time work. However, abolishing the earnings test would adversely affect the cash-flow of the system. If the earnings test were abolished between early and full retirement age, the share of married men claiming Social Security benefits would increase by about 10 percentage points, and average benefit payments would increase by about $1,800 per recipient, to be offset eventually by actuarially fair or better than fair reductions in benefit payouts throughout their 70s, 80s and 90s. One can increase the employment of older persons either by abolishing the earnings test or by increasing the early entitlement age under Social Security. A major difference on the funding side is that abolishing the earning test results in an earlier flow of benefit payments from Social Security, worsening the cash-flow problems of the system, while increasing the early entitlement age delays the flow of benefit payments from the system, improving its liquidity.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steimeier, 2004. "The Social Security Retirement Earning Test,Retirement and Benefit Claiming," Working Papers wp090, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp090
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    File URL: http://www.mrrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/Papers/pdf/wp090.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Roger H. Gordon & Alan S. Blinder, 1980. "Market wages, reservation wages, and retirement decisions," NBER Chapters,in: Econometric Studies in Public Finance, pages 277-308 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Jonathan Gruber & Peter Orszag, 1999. "What To Do About The Social Security Earnings Test?," Issues in Brief ib-1, Center for Retirement Research.
    3. Burtless, Gary & Moffitt, Robert A, 1985. "The Joint Choice of Retirement Age and Postretirement Hours of Work," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(2), pages 209-236, April.
    4. Leora Friedberg, 2000. "The Labor Supply Effects of the Social Security Earnings Test," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(1), pages 48-63, February.
    5. Richard Disney & Sarah Smith, 2002. "The Labour Supply Effect of the Abolition of the Earnings Rule for Older Workers in the United Kingdom," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages 136-152, March.
    6. Gustman, Alan L. & Steinmeier, Thomas L., 2005. "Retirement Effects of Proposals by the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 58(1), pages 27-49, March.
    7. Feldstein, Martin & Samwick, Andrew A., 1992. "Social Security Rules and Marginal Tax Rates," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, March.
    8. Coile, Courtney & Diamond, Peter & Gruber, Jonathan & Jousten, Alain, 2002. "Delays in claiming social security benefits," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(3), pages 357-385, June.
    9. Samwick, Andrew A., 1998. "Discount rate heterogeneity and social security reform," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 117-146, October.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Hugo Benítez-Silva & Debra Sabatini Dwyer & Warren Sanderson, 2006. "A Dynamic Model of Retirement and Social Security Reform Expectations: A Solution to the New Early Retirement Puzzle," Working Papers wp134, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    2. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 2005. "Retirement, Saving, Benefit Claiming and Solvency Under A Partial System of Voluntary Personal Accounts," Working Papers wp105, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    3. Pierre-Carl Michaud & Arthur vanSoest, 2006. "How Did the Elimination of the Earnings Test Above the Normal Retirement Age Affect Retirement Expectations?," Working Papers wp135, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    4. Hernæs, Erik & Jia, Zhiyang, 2009. "Labour Supply Response of a Retirement Earnings Test Reform," Memorandum 25/2009, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    5. 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.
    6. Amy Rehder Harris & John Sabelhaus & Almudena Sevilla-Sanz, 2005. "Behavioral Effects of Social Security Reform in a Dynamic Micro-Simulation with Life-Cycle Agents: Working Paper 2005-06," Working Papers 16494, Congressional Budget Office.
    7. Hugo Benitez-Silva & Na Yin, 2007. "An Empirical Study of the Effects of Social Security Reforms on Claming Behavior and Benefits Receipt Using Aggregate and Public-Use Administrative Micro Data," Department of Economics Working Papers 07-05, Stony Brook University, Department of Economics.
    8. Hugo Benitez-Silva & Frank Heiland, 2006. "The Social Security Earnings Test Revisited: Information, Distortions, and Costs," Department of Economics Working Papers 06-04, Stony Brook University, Department of Economics.
    9. Helmuth Cremer & Jean-Marie Lozachmeur & Pierre Pestieau, 2008. "Social Desirability of Earnings Tests," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 9, pages 114-134, May.
    10. 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.
    11. Engelhardt, Gary V. & Kumar, Anil, 2009. "The repeal of the retirement earnings test and the labor supply of older men," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(04), pages 429-450, October.
    12. David S. Loughran & Steven Haider, 2007. "Do the Elderly Respond to Taxes on Earnings? Evidence from the Social Security Retirement Earnings Test," Working Papers 223-1, RAND Corporation.
    13. David S Loughran & Steven Haider, 2007. "Do Elderly Men Respond to Taxes on Earnings? Evidence from the Social Security Retirement Earnings Test," Working Papers WR-223-1, RAND Corporation.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth

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