Trends in Working and Claiming Behavior at Social Security’s Early Eligibility Age

Sep 11, 2020 / Amanda Chase, Horsesmouth Assistant Editor

This paper has observed work behavior at ages 61 and 63 and claiming behavior at Social Security’s Earliest Eligibility Age (EEA) of 62—that is, when workers are first eligible to claim Social Security retired-worker benefits. These observations were limited to workers born from 1937–1944 (aged 61–63 in 1998–2007) and conditional on workers living to age 64, never having been disabled-worker beneficiaries, and being fully insured (eligible) at age 62 to claim retired-worker benefits. For both sexes, this study found that fully insured workers were distributed across multiple working- and claiming-status combinations, rather than being concentrated in one particular working- and claiming-status category.

Across the 1937–1944 birth cohorts, the shares of fully insured workers who claimed benefits and stopped working at around the same time, who claimed benefits and continued working, and who stopped working before claiming benefits all declined significantly. Conversely, the shares of fully insured workers who did not claim benefits and continued working, and who did not claim benefits and did cease working, both increased significantly over time. Overall, the share of workers claiming at age 62 has declined more than the share of workers continuing work at age 63 has increased. This result appears to reflect the increase in the share of workers in the not claiming at 62, not working at 63 category over the observation period, during which the share who claimed at age 62 decreased.

Across these birth cohorts, the largest shares of age-62 claimants—comprising 22.2 percent of male and 31.2 percent of female fully insured workers by the end of the observation period—had ceased work by age 61. Only a minority of fully insured workers had ceased work and claimed benefits at around the same time at age 62, and that share declined more than the shares for the other two age-62 claiming categories for men across the 1937–1944 birth cohorts. By the 1944 birth cohort, the proportion of fully insured workers who ceased work and claimed at around the same time had fallen to 12.1 percent for men and 11.1 percent for women.

You can find the full SSA working paper here.


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