David Lerner Associates: Why Certain People Claim Social Security Benefits Early

David Lerner Associates: Why Certain People Claim Social Security Benefits Early

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A Report by GAO Discloses Why Certain People Claim Social Security Benefits Early

Why would people decide to claim Social Security retirement benefits at the earliest possible age of 62, rather than waiting until their full retirement age (66 to 67 for anyone born in 1943 or later), when doing so would reduce their monthly benefit by as much as 30 %? There are many reasons, according to a recent General Accounting Office report labelled, "Challenges for Those Claiming Social Security Benefits Early and New Health Coverage Options," featuring work-related and demographic factors.

The blue-collar blues

The study compared workers in a variety of positions and industries-- farming, construction, sales, professional, and managerial, to name a few-- and found that blue-collar workers were far more likely to claim early retirement benefits than others. This may be due to the fact that blue-collar work is typically more physically demanding, and therefore considerably harder as people age.

For instance, 54 % of men in farming jobs claimed benefits at age 62, compared with just 26 % of men in managerial positions. Eight out of 10 male farmers claimed their benefits before reaching full retirement age, compared with a little more than half of all managers, both male and female.*

Employment status influence

A person's employment status also revealed considerable differences in the timing of claims. Full-time workers were roughly 30 % less likely to claim early. By contrast-- and perhaps not surprisingly-- those who said they were retired or unemployed were more likely to tap their Social Security early.

Interestingly, those with long work histories-- at least 35 years of earnings-- were 38 % more likely to claim their benefits early than were those with shorter work spans.

Other factors

The study revealed several other factors that contributed to early claims of benefits:.

  • Education: Those with less than a college degree were 23 % more likely to claim early than were those with at least a college education.
  • Marital status: Widowed individuals were generally more likely to claim their benefits before reaching full retirement age compared with married, divorced/separated, or partnered couples.
  • Life expectancy: Those who thought they had a strong chance of living past age 75 were significantly more likely to delay their benefits when compared to those with lower longevity expectations.

Financial benefits of waiting

According to the GAO's research, delaying Social Security resulted in a stronger financial position in retirement. Households with an individual who delayed benefits until at least full retirement age received a median income that was 45 % higher than households who took benefits early. Similarly, total wealth in households where someone delayed benefits until at least full retirement age was 25 % higher than in households with someone who claimed early.

* The study did not report findings for female farmers.

For more information about these findings and others, consisting of how the Pension Protection and Affordable Care Act changes affect health coverage options for those who claim early, view the complete study at www.gao.gov.


Material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to be used in connection with the evaluation of any investments offered by David Lerner Associates, Inc. This material does not constitute an offer or recommendation to buy or sell securities and should not be considered in connection with the purchase or sale of securities. 

David Lerner Associates does not provide tax or legal advice. The information presented here is not specific to any individual's personal circumstances.

These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable-- we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

Some of this material has been provided by Broadridge Investor Communications Solutions, Inc.

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Founded in 1976, David Lerner Associates is a privately-held broker/dealer with headquarters in Syosset, New York and branch offices in Westport, CT; Boca Raton, FL; Teaneck and Princeton, NJ; and White Plains, NY. For more information contact David Lerner Associates Cal 516-921-4200 Visit our website: http://www.davidlerner.com

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