Senior Policy Analyst
Older Americans are working longer and claiming their Social Security benefits later, new research from the Social Security Administration shows.
Social Security recipients can begin to claim retired-worker benefits any time between ages 62 and 70. The earlier they claim them, the smaller their monthly benefit will be, but whether workers claim benefits early or late, they tend to receive the same total benefits over the course of their retirement.
The SSA study finds that:
Working longer and delaying Social Security claiming can boost workers’ retirement security. The longer they wait to claim, the larger their monthly Social Security benefit will be. The longer they work, the more they can save — and the fewer years they’ll need to make their retirement savings last. Working longer also increases contributions to Social Security, improving its finances.
Though the trends toward longer careers and later claiming are encouraging, it’s important to remember that claiming Social Security early is the right decision for many Americans. For example, half of older workers who lost their jobs during the past five years hadn’t yet found new work, a recent study showed — and those who did often settled for lower wages or fewer hours. In addition, disability rates rise sharply with age, and in most cases older workers’ illnesses and injuries don’t meet the strict medical standards for Social Security Disability Insurance.
The facts that many workers are already working longer and claiming later call into question some policymakers’ support of raising Social Security’s retirement age, which would cut all retirees’ benefits, no matter when they claim. Doing so could cause serious hardship for people who cannot realistically work and rely heavily on Social Security in retirement.