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Benefits in the News > By Subject >

Social Security - benefits, incl. coverage

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Innovative Strategies to Maximize Social Security Benefits (PDF)
20 pages. "No other vehicle can match the combination of inflation-fighting increases, longevity protection, investment risk elimination, and spousal coverage that Social Security delivers -- potentially making it one of the most valuable sources of retirement income. While the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 restricted the use of certain Social Security claiming techniques, there are many remaining strategies that can help maximize Social Security benefits and enhance retirement security." (Prudential)
Most Americans Maintain or Increase Spendable Income After Claiming Social Security (PDF)
"Three years after claiming, the median taxpayer in the study reported spendable income that was greater (103 percent) than spendable income in the year before claiming. Median replacement rates three years after claiming were higher for individuals in the lowest quintile of 1999 income (123 percent), and lower for the highest income (95 percent for the top 1 percent of the income distribution)." (Investment Company Institute [ICI])
Why Are U.S. Households Claiming Social Security Later?
"The Early Baby Boomer cohort was less likely to be fully retired than [the cohort of persons having 1931-1941 birth years] at both age 62 (36.7 percent vs. 44.0 percent) and age 64 (49.5 percent vs. 53.9 percent).... [T]he shift from DB towards DC plans was the biggest contributor to these declines, followed by better health. Changes to Social Security rules and improvements in mortality played smaller roles. Taken together, the four changes explain about 60 percent of the drop in full retirement at 62[.]" (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)
The Pros and Cons of Taking Social Security Early
[By] taking Social Security at age 62, you're only receiving 75 percent of potential benefits. By taking out proceeds at age 70 (the oldest age you can claim Social Security benefits), you're increasing your maximum potential returns by 8 percent for every year you delay benefits ... There are a few scenarios where it does make sense to take Social Security at age 62, and health ... is definitely one of them." (U.S. News & World Report)
Know What to Expect from Social Security Benefit Estimators
"[If] participants use one of the free tools analyzed in this report, they will likely receive reasonably accurate benefits estimates. However, depending on the tool, participants may be more or less likely to absorb, draw meaningful inferences about and act on information. Therefore, the differences in the way Social Security benefit estimators communicate results is key, because when it comes to retirement planning, accurate information is worth little without understanding and action." (Corporate Insight)
Strategies to Make the Most of Your Retirement Assets
"In the future, if the government has to increase taxes one of the first doors they may knock will be these type of accounts.... One strategy to review if standard deductions go up is the benefit of converting a portion of your qualified retirement asset to a Roth IRA.... Another option to avoid paying higher taxes in the future is to position a portion of your qualified money into a QLAC.... If tax rates go down and standard deductions increase; delaying your Social Security benefit could prove to be a solid long-term tax play." (Slott Report)
Older People's Willingness to Delay Social Security Claiming
"[H]alf of the respondents would delay claiming if no work requirement were in place under the status quo, and only slightly fewer, 46 percent, with a work requirement. [The authors] also asked respondents how large a lump sum they would need with or without a work requirement. In the former case, the average amount needed to induce delayed claiming was about $60,400, while when part-time work was required, the average was $66,700. This implies a low utility value of leisure foregone of only $6,300, or about 10 percent of older households' income." (Michigan Retirement Research Center [MRRC])
OIG Report: $1 Billion Paid by Social Security to Individual Representative Payees Who Do Not Have a Social Security Number (PDF)
20 pages. "SSA is required to obtain the SSNs of representative payee applicants. SSA uses the representative payee's SSN to [1] verify the payee's identifying information; [2] determine whether the payee applicant is receiving Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income; [3] determine whether the applicant is a convicted felon; and [4] determine whether the applicant previously served as a representative payee and has a history of poor payee performance or misuse.... [OIG estimates] that 22,426 beneficiaries had an individual representative payee who did not have an SSN, and SSA had not followed its policy to retain the paper application.... From April 2006 to September 2016, SSA paid these representative payees about $1 billion." (Office of the Inspector General [OIG], Social Security Administration [SSA])
Social Security Begins to Increase the Retirement Age
"Most baby boomers can receive the full amount of Social Security they have earned at age 66. However, retirees who will turn 62 in 2017 need to wait an extra two months to collect their full Social Security payments. Starting this year the retirement age begins a gradual increase toward age 67. Here's how the older retirement age will impact how much you receive from Social Security." (U.S. News & World Report)
Social Security Full Retirement Age Increases Past 66
"[W]hile the full retirement age is now later -- which means starting benefits at age 62 is 'even earlier' and causes more of a reduction, while delaying until age 70 is 'less' of a delay and doesn't give as much of an increase -- the relative value of delaying Social Security benefits isn't substantively changed.... However, because of how early benefit reductions are calculated for survivor benefits, the new rules actually do substantially reduce the value of delaying widow(er) benefits for surviving spouses -- at least, if they're not also facing the Social Security Earnings Test!" (Michael Kitces in Nerd's Eye View)
Optimal Social Security Claiming Behavior Under Lump Sum Incentives: Theory and Evidence
"People who delay claiming Social Security receive higher lifelong benefits upon retirement. [The authors] survey individuals on their willingness to delay claiming later, if they could receive a lump sum in lieu of a higher annuity payment.... [E]arly claimers under current rules would delay claiming most when offered actuarially fair lump sums, and for lump sums worth 87% as much, claiming ages would still be higher than at present." (Pension Research Council, The Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania)
Social Security Benefits: What Married Couples Approaching Retirement Need to Know (PDF)
"Social Security benefits represent a valuable source of guaranteed income individuals can count as part of a retirement strategy. For married couples, a critical part of any Social Security claiming strategy is integrating Social Security benefits to take best advantage of the rules surrounding the claiming of benefits." (Prudential)
CBO Now Projects 31% Cut in Social Security Benefits Will Be Needed by 2031
"[CBO] is now reporting that the combined Social Security retirement and disability trust funds will be depleted in fiscal year 2029 -- five years earlier than the trustees of the two funds had projected earlier this year in their annual report.... CBO's projections on the following are lower than those by the Social Security Trust Fund trustees: [1] earnings subject to the program's payroll tax [2] labor force participation rates, productivity growth, lower inflation ... [3] fertility rates ... [4] real interest rates ... in the long run[.]" (ThinkAdvisor)
How Much Cash Would It Take to Get You to Delay Retirement?
"[Researchers] assigned an 'approximate actuarially fair' dollar amount of $60,000 to the value of waiting four years after people could first claim -- so, until age 66 -- to apply for their benefit. The researchers asked people between the ages of 50 and 70 to assume they were 62, single, and could afford to wait to claim.... Thirty-four percent said they'd take less than $60,000 if they didn't have to work during the wait; the average amount was $53,711. It fell to 30 percent if they had to work half-time during the wait, and the average dollar amount required to wait went up to $61,406." (Newsmax)
Illustrative Social Security Benefits for Retired Workers, Disabled Workers, and Survivors Scheduled Under Current Law (PDF)
"For a group of example workers with a range of full-lifetime average earnings levels at various ages in 2016, this note displays their current earnings at various ages in 2015, their full-lifetime average earnings, and the amounts they would expect to receive at benefit entitlement." (Office of the Chief Actuary, U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA])
Estimates of the Financial Effects on Social Security of H.R. 6489, the Social Security Reform Act of 2016 (PDF)
30 pages. "Assuming enactment of the plan, we estimate that the combined OASI and DI Trust Funds would be fully solvent (able to pay all scheduled benefits in full on a timely basis) throughout the 75-year projection period, under the intermediate assumptions of the 2016 Trustees Report. In addition, under this plan the OASDI program would meet the further conditions for sustainable solvency, because projected combined trust fund reserves would be growing as a percentage of the annual cost of the program at the end of the long-range period." (Office of the Chief Actuary, U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA])
A Comparison of Free Online Tools for Individuals Deciding When to Claim Social Security Benefits
"This note provides information on six publicly available online retirement planning tools that focus primarily or exclusively on the Social Security claiming decision. It explains their advantages and limitations, what types of information the tools require of the user (inputs), and what types of information the tools provide (outputs).... The six tools ... are available to the public, do not require the user to create an account with the organization, and are free to use." (U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA])
Comparing CBO's Long-Term Projections with Those of the Social Security Trustees (PDF)
32 presentation slides. "CBO's Projection of the 75-Year actuarial balance is larger than the Trustees' projection ... Two-thirds of the difference is explained by different projections of four major inputs ... Over the next 75 years, CBO projects, Social Security's outlays as a percentage of GDP will be higher, and revenues will be lower, than the Trustees project." (Congressional Budget Office [CBO])
Deferring Commencement of Social Security Benefits Is OK, Deferring Retirement Is Better -- Part 2
"[A recent study concludes] that the financial benefits of continuing to work an additional five years is much lower than the 40% figure [this author] previously developed.... In their analysis, the [study's] authors assume that the Earnings Test is a 'pure tax on benefits', i.e., they ignore the increase in future benefits that results. We respectfully disagree with the reasonableness of this assumption and, as a result, find the author's conclusion misleading." (Ken Steiner, FSA Retired)
The Social Security Retirement Age (PDF)
10 pages. "The full retirement age (FRA) is the age at which workers can claim full Social Security retired worker benefits. The size of the monthly benefits is affected by when the worker claims benefits. The worker's age when claiming benefits is compared with the FRA, and adjustments are made depending on the number of months before or after the FRA the worker claims benefits.... The FRA was 65 at the inception of Social Security, but has been gradually increased upwards, to 67 for those born in 1960 or later. Claiming benefits past age 70 does not increase the monthly benefits." [Report R44670, Oct. 28, 2016] (Congressional Research Service [CRS])
Social Security: Calculation and History of Taxing Benefits (PDF)
18 pages. "[CBO] projected that 49% of Social Security beneficiaries (25.5 million people) were affected by the income taxation of Social Security benefits in tax year 2014. That share will grow over time because the income thresholds used to determine the share of benefits that is taxable are not indexed for inflation or wage growth. As a result, income taxes on benefits will become an increasingly important source of income for Social Security and Medicare." [Report RL32552, Oct. 27, 2016] (Congressional Research Service [CRS])
[Guidance Overview] Social Security Benefits and Taxable Wage Base to Increase for 2017
"The average of total wages for 2015 (the most recent year) is $48,098.63.... For 2017, the primary Social Security monthly benefit formula will be 90% of the first $885 of [Average Indexed Monthly Earnings], plus 32% of the next $4,451, plus 15% of any excess over $5,336. For recipients under Social Security normal retirement age (SSNRA) in 2017, the annual exempt amount is $16,920. For recipients who reach SSNRA in 2017, the annual exempt amount, which applies only to earnings in months prior to the month the recipient attains SSNRA, is $44,880." (Xerox HR Services)
Six Social Security Changes Coming in 2017
"A modest increase in payments.... A higher tax cap.... Increased earnings limit.... An increase in the maximum possible benefit.... No more double claiming.... Dependents can't receive benefits if you suspend payments." (U.S. News & World Report)
[Official Guidance] Social Security Announces 0.3 Percent Benefit Increase for 2017
"Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 65 million Americans will increase 0.3 percent in 2017.... [T]he maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $127,200 from $118,500. Of the estimated 173 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2017, about 12 million will pay more because of the increase in the taxable maximum." (U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA])
Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2015 (PDF)
"Disability benefits were paid to just over 10.2 million people.... In December, payments to disabled beneficiaries totaled more than $11.4 billion.... Workers accounted for the largest share of disabled beneficiaries (87 percent). Average age was 54." (U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA])
Testimony: Comparing CBO's Long-Term Projections with Those of the Social Security Trustees
"For some time, both CBO and the Social Security Trustees have projected that, if full benefits were paid under the formulas specified in current law, the program's spending would rise significantly during the coming decades. In contrast, total revenues for the program are anticipated to grow more slowly than outlays: The faster growth projected for total benefits than for total revenues means that a shortfall in the program's finances is expected to continue. Although both CBO and the Trustees project such a shortfall, they differ in their assessment of its magnitude. This testimony describes that difference and the major factors that contribute to it." (Congressional Budget Office [CBO])
SEC Provides Free Online Financial Planning Tools
Tools at the SEC's web site include: 401(k) and IRA Minimum Distribution Calculator; Compound Interest Calculator and Savings Goal Calculator; Social Security Retirement Estimator; Retirement Ballpark Estimator; Mutual Fund Analyzer; 529 Expense Analyzer; and a link to a searchable database of investment advisers who have filed Form ADV. (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission)
The Life Cycle Model, Replacement Rates, and Retirement Income Adequacy
"A replacement rate calculation more consistent with the life cycle model would compare retirement income to an average of real earnings calculated over a significant number of years. Such an approach would find substantially higher replacement rates for the typical retiree." (Andrew G. Biggs, American Enterprise Institute, via SSRN)
GAO Report: Improvements to Social Security Claims Process Could Help People Make Better Informed Decisions about Retirement Benefits
56 pages. "This report examines [1] the extent to which people understand Social Security rules affecting their retirement benefits; and [2] what information SSA provides to individuals to enable them to make informed claiming decisions.... GAO is making six recommendations to SSA, including that SSA take steps to ensure that claims specialists provide information on delayed benefits ... and that the claims process provides claimants better information on the retirement earnings test." Editor's Note: see also GAO Testimony to U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging. [GAO-16-786, published Sept. 14, 2016, released Sept. 14, 2016] (U.S. Government Accountability Office [GAO])
Earnings and Employment Data for Workers Covered Under Social Security and Medicare, by State and County, 2013
"The data show, by sex and age, the number of wage and salary workers and self-employed persons, the amount of their taxable earnings, and the amount they paid in Social Security and Medicare contributions." (U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA])
Public Pensions and Social Security, by State: Where Do Employees Get Both?
"The theory is that for public employees not covered by Social Security their government pensions should be higher (as should the amount they contribute towards their pension). Since we have the raw data from actuarial reports and have now found a website that lists states where public employees are not covered by Social Security ... we can test that theory. As it turns out the top eight states where retirees receive the largest average payouts are all [on the list of those not covered by Social Security]." (Burypensions)
How Work and Marriage Trends Affect Social Security's Family Benefits
"Social Security's spousal and survivor ('family') benefits were designed in the 1930s for a one-earner married couple.... Single mothers who were never married are not eligible for family benefits, nor are divorced women who were married less than 10 years. These women often find it harder to earn an adequate Social Security benefit on their own, as their work opportunities are constrained by child-rearing duties. Policy experts have suggested ways to help: Earnings sharing among married couples could raise benefits for women who later become divorced. Caregiving credits could help mothers regardless of their marital status." (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)
[Opinion] Actuarial Profession Should Advocate True Social Security Sustainability
"The common sense solution to providing true Social Security sustainability is to require that the system automatically be placed in actuarial balance on a periodic basis in the future, as is the case for all sound actuarial processes. For example, current law could be changed to require the program's tax rate be automatically changed effective for the year following an actuarial valuation that shows the program has fallen out of actuarial balance by 5% or more." (Ken Steiner, FSA Retired)
Are Early Social Security Claimers Making a Mistake?
"Comparing the calculated household replacement rates with target rates from previous research shows that, overall, roughly 65 percent of households claiming at 62 are not prepared; the rate for the disadvantaged group is twice the rate of the advantaged group.... A simple probit regression suggests that health and employment shocks and the absence of a DB pension are related to the lack of preparedness for both the disadvantaged and advantaged." (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)
Marital Histories, Gender, and Financial Security in Late Mid-Life: Evidence from Four Cohorts in the Health and Retirement Study
"Middle Baby Boomers are more likely to have negative wealth (i.e. debt) or zero wealth, and those who have positive wealth have lower levels of wealth. On the other hand, Middle Baby Boomers working full-time have higher earnings than earlier cohorts, especially women. More recent cohorts are less likely to be continuously married than previous cohorts.... [T]he economic benefits of continuous marriage are more pronounced for wealth than earnings." (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)
Distributional Effects of Means Testing Social Security: Income Versus Wealth
"This paper compares Social Security means tests that would reduce benefits for recipients who fall in the top quarter of the income distribution with means tests aimed at those in the top quarter of the wealth distribution. Both means tests would reduce the average benefits for the affected groups by about $5,000." (National Bureau of Economic Research [NBER])
Using a 'Preference Checklist' to Make Retirement Decisions
"Because the optimal [Social Security] claiming age varies depending on factors such as longevity, successful interventions need to be effective and selective: delaying claiming age for those who should delay, but not for those who should claim early. [The authors] investigate a recently developed choice architecture tool, a preference checklist (a list of choice-relevant factors that consumers might want to consider, but often do not)." (TIAA Institute)
Social Security's Financial Outlook: The 2016 Update in Perspective
"The 2016 Trustees Report shows virtually no change: Social Security's 75-year deficit is 2.66 percent of payroll, just a hair below the 2015 projection. The deficit as a percentage of GDP remains at about 1 percent. Trust fund exhaustion is still 2034, after which payroll taxes still cover about three quarters of promised benefits. The shortfall is manageable, but action should be taken soon to restore confidence in the program and give people time to adjust to needed changes." (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)
An Actuarial Perspective on the 2016 Social Security Trustees Report (PDF)
"To bring Social Security into actuarial balance for the next 75 years ... changes equivalent to either an immediate increase of 2.75 percentage points in the payroll tax rate, or an immediate decrease of about 17 percent of benefits for all current and future beneficiaries, or some combination thereof, is required. The analogous numbers from last year's report were a 2.78 percentage point increase in the payroll tax rate and a 17.2 percent decrease in all benefits." (American Academy of Actuaries)
Social Security Finances: A Review of the 2016 Trustees Report (PDF)
"Projections indicate that scheduled Social Security benefits can be paid in full over the next 18 years with no change in current law. Over the long term, a significant projected shortfall must be addressed. Timely revenue increases and/or gradual benefit adjustments can bring the program into long-term balance, ensuring that Social Security will continue to pay all promised benefits for the next 75 years and beyond." (National Academy of Social Insurance [NASI])
Social Security Will Be There for You, Millennials
"While older Americans can't imagine a world without Social Security, most millennials have become fatalistic about it ... Only 6 percent of them expect current benefits to be there when they hit 67 years old -- the full benefit age for those born in 1960 or later -- and 51 percent expect the program to go entirely extinct ... Under the current estimate, 2034 is the year when Social Security can no longer pay full benefits ... But the program should still be able to pay three-quarters of benefits at that time and for decades afterward, backed by a steady stream of payroll taxes from future generations." (Bloomberg)
Text of the 2016 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Social Security Trust Funds (PDF)
272 pages. "Considered separately, the DI Trust Fund reserves become depleted in the third quarter of 2023 and the OASI Trust Fund reserves become depleted in 2035. In last year's report, the projected reserve depletion years were 2034 for OASDI, 2016 for DI, and 2035 for OASI. The change in the depletion date for DI is largely due to the temporary tax rate reallocation enacted in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.... The projected OASDI annual cost rate increases from 14.05 percent of tax- able payroll for 2016 to 16.61 percent for 2038 and to 17.68 percent for 2090, a level that is 4.35 percent of taxable payroll more than the projected income rate[.]" (The Board of Trustees, Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds)
Social Security Board of Trustees: Long-Range Projection Unchanged for Trust Fund Reserve Depletion
"The asset reserves of the combined OASDI Trust Funds increased by $23 billion in 2015 to a total of $2.81 trillion. The combined trust fund reserves are still growing and will continue to do so through 2019. Beginning in 2020, the total cost of the program is projected to exceed income. The year when the combined trust fund reserves are projected to become depleted, if Congress does not act before then, is 2034 -- the same as projected last year. At that time, there will be sufficient income coming in to pay 79 percent of scheduled benefits." (U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA])
Fact Sheet: Social Security and Medicare Trustees Report
"Taken in combination, Social Security's retirement and disability programs have dedicated resources sufficient to cover benefits for nearly two decades, until 2034. The Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will have sufficient funds to cover its obligations until 2028, two years earlier than was projected last year, but still 11 years later than was projected in the last report issued prior to passage of the Affordable Care Act." (U.S. Department of the Treasury)
Court Allows Offset for Social Security Benefits Received by Children of Long-Term Disability Claimant
"Is it wrong to take an offset for Social Security benefits received by the children of a long term disability claimant? No, says a new decision.... [T]he court noted: '[t]he plan defines Social Security benefits as including family benefits' and the dependent benefits are awarded here because of plaintiff's disability. Also, the SSDI 'family award notices' expressly designate Jones as the payee and authorize her to use the funds" [Jones v. Life Insurance of North America, No. 08-03971 (N.D. Cal. June 14, 2016)] (Lane Powell PC)
Life After 'File and Suspend'
"Acceptance of new applications for file and suspend officially ended on April 30, six months after the enactment of the legislation (though qualifying people who had filed before that were grandfathered in). But a related strategy known as 'Restricted Application' remains possible for certain people." (AARP)
Different People Different Choices (PDF)
"Deciding when to stop working and when to start claiming Social Security benefits are two of the most important financial decisions you will make. These actions do not have to occur at the same time. Social Security is ... one of the few sources of income you (and your spouse, if you are married) can count on for as long as you live.... The individual scenarios and claiming decisions detailed [in this article] may help you to consider your options." (National Academy of Social Insurance [NASI])
How to Raise the Retirement Age for People Who Want to Work
"One idea is to raise the normal retirement age to, say, 70, but make it easier for older people to go on disability.... A streamlined alternative would be to base the normal retirement age on a worker's occupation -- raising it higher for deskbound jobs.... A sliding scale would seem suitable for an aging workforce, since getting old is one long process of sliding downhill in terms of ability to work.... [T]he share of people working above the traditional retirement age, while higher than in recent decades, remains lower in percentage terms than it was in the 1940s and 1950s." (Bloomberg)
Social Security Disability Insurance: Participation and Spending
"Under current law, CBO projects, the number of DI beneficiaries would rise by 0.8 percent per year over the next decade; excluding the effects of inflation, the average benefit would rise by 0.9 percent per year and total spending on benefits would rise by 1.9 percent per year, on average.... [U]nder current law spending would exceed income after 2018, and the trust fund would be exhausted in 2022[.]" (Congressional Budget Office [CBO])
[Opinion] One Simple Trick for Beating the Collapse of Social Security
"[P]ension funds are currently playing a game with employees' retirement funds they cannot win by overestimating future returns. Two legs of [the] three-legged-stool -- Social Security and employer funded pensions -- are not to be trusted in today's retirement reality. The only leg left is personal savings, and that means the security of your retirement is up to you. It's that simple." (Young Research and Publishing, Inc.)
[Opinion] Raising Social Security Retirement Age Will Hurt When Early Retirement Is Unavoidable
"Nearly half of Social Security beneficiaries retire early and, therefore, face a permanent reduction in their benefits. Raising the retirement age would only increase the number of people facing this permanent reduction in benefits.... [T]hese benefit cuts disproportionately affect low-skilled workers with the least education, who are the mostly likely to take early retirement.... Retirement is not an easy decision for many workers and many are forced to retire, even if they are not ready." (National Public Pension Coalition)
More Advisors Finding Retirees and Pre-Retirees Represent Majority of Their Business
"Half of all financial advisors say the majority of their business consists of pre-retiree and retiree financial planning -- nearly 40 percent higher than in 2011 ... [T]he number of advisors offering Social Security claiming strategies has more than doubled (33 percent in 2011 vs. 70 percent in 2016). In addition, required minimum distribution (RMD) planning, long term care, sequence of withdrawal planning and defined benefit pension claiming strategies all saw double-digit growth over the last five years[.]" (LIMRA)
How to Use Social Security After the File-and-Suspend Rule Ends
"[S]ome people are still eligible to use the restricted application, allowing them to choose between their own or a spousal benefit.... In one option, the spouse with the bigger benefit would start Social Security, and the other spouse would use a restricted application to get the spousal benefit. That would allow the second spouse's own benefit to grow larger until she starts to take it. Or the couple could do the opposite, using a restricted application to start a spousal benefit for the spouse with the larger benefit, allowing the regular benefit to grow even bigger." (U.S. News & World Report)
Income of the Population 55 or Older, 2014 (PDF)
333 pages. "This report provides a broad income picture of a cross section of the population aged 55 or older, with special emphasis on income of the population aged 65 or older. The tabulations focus on the major sources and amounts of income in 2014, both separately and combined, for those age groups. The relative importance of particular sources to total income is measured for individual units, and the share of aggregate income from particular sources is measured for the aged as a whole." [Also available: all tables (XLS)] (U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA])
How a Bestseller Helped Change the Rules of Retirement
"Inside a bold green cover, Get What's Yours explained the many ways retirees could squeeze more out of Social Security. The authors' basic advice was patience. Social Security rewards Americans who wait as long as possible to claim their benefits.... [The book] explained some obscure strategies that even many Social Security employees weren't aware of.... For better or worse, Washington policymakers were apparently among the many readers of Get What's Yours. In a budget deal reached in October, Congress killed the file-and-suspend and lump-sum options, calling them unintended loopholes." (Bloomberg)
[Opinion] Some Problems with Raising the Social Security 'Full Retirement Age'
"In fact, raising the 'full retirement age' would cut Social Security Old-Age Insurance benefits by the same proportion for rich and poor alike, and for people whose life expectancies are long or short.... In plain English, 'raising the full benefit age from 67 to 70' is simply a 24 percent across-the-board cut in benefits for all new claimants, whatever their incomes and whatever their life-expectancies." (The Brookings Institution)
Social Security File and Suspend Deadline Is April 29
"You can still opt to file for your Social Security benefits and then suspend them before April 30 if you are old enough to qualify, but after that date this valuable option will be terminated for all future applicants.... And if you opt for this choice before the deadline, you can also choose to receive the entire amount of your suspended benefit in a lump sum instead of receiving the higher payout." (Investopedia)
Why a Lump-Sum Payment Should Be Part of Social Security
"A group of researchers sought to think of a new way to get people to delay claiming benefits, work longer and have all that happen without Social Security suffering financially. In a nutshell, we set out to design a way to give people the benefit increases they would receive if they delayed claiming, but instead of giving them that increase as part of a monthly payment, we would give it to them as a lump sum at their later claiming date. The money turns out to be quite substantial, from $60,000 to $80,000 to $170,000. And lo and behold, people like this idea. In our experimental survey, we found people would delay claiming benefits for about half a year, and they would work about a third to a half of the extra time. All of that takes place without costing Social Security a penny." (MarketWatch)
Money's Worth Ratios Under the OASDI Program for Hypothetical Workers (PDF)
10 pages. "This note presents analysis of theoretical money's worth ratios for hypothetical workers with various earnings patterns and levels under the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program. The money's worth ratio is the ratio of present value of expected benefits to the present value of expected payroll taxes (contributions) for an individual or a cohort of workers.... For a group of workers and their dependents, money's worth ratios attempt to answer the question: How do benefits compare to payroll tax contributions? In other words, do particular individuals or groups get their 'money's worth'?" (U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA])
Internal Real Rates of Return Under the OASDI Program for Hypothetical Workers (PDF)
9 pages. "This note presents analysis of theoretical internal real rates of return for hypothetical workers with various earnings patterns and levels under the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program. The internal real rate of return ... is the real interest rate (effective real annual yield) for which the present value of expected payroll taxes (contributions) is equal to the present value of expected benefits. Therefore, internal rates of return attempt to answer the question: If a group of workers with selected characteristics were to invest contributions to fund future benefits (including dependents), what real annual yield would be required to finance those future benefits?" (U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA])

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