The brief analyzes trends in claim behavior over time using Social Security data for both claim year and cohort distributions and finds that the cohort data shows that the share of people claiming Social Security retirement benefits when they attain age 62 has been falling since the mid-1990s. Social Security’s claim year data shows the proportion of people claiming benefits early has not changed over the years, the brief asserts.
According to the paper, using Social Security’s 2007 Annual Statistical Supplement it is possible to calculate the percentage of retirees claiming benefits at age 62 for any given claim year over time. The calculation indicates the proportion of women claiming benefits at age 62 drops from 64% in 1985 to 56% in 2006, while the fraction of men claiming retired-worker benefits at age 62 was 52% in both 1985 and 2006.
However, the cohort analysis shows that the proportion of eligible workers claiming retired-worker benefits at age 62 drops significantly for both men and women. Of those who turned 62 in 1985, 62% of women and 51% of men claimed benefits as soon as they became available, but for those who turned 62 in 2006, 48% of women and 43% of men claimed benefits as soon as possible.
The brief assets that the cohort data provides the most accurate analysis of claiming behavior and is consistent with the trend of increased labor force participation by older workers.
The Issue Brief is here .