Understanding Social Security Trends and Perspectives
Who Claims Social Security Early - and Why?
The portion of people claiming Social Security retirement benefits at age 62 has declined, from over half of the eligible population in the 1990s to less than a third in the 2010s. Over time, the context for claiming Social Security has also changed, and the cohorts of retirees have changed, too. A recent report examines this context and the characteristics of those who decide to start claiming their benefit at the earliest eligibility age of 62 compared with those who wait.
Additionally, a companion report asks what financial impacts the decision to collect early might have for the individual over time. Combined, the two reports’ findings suggest that employment losses resulting from the COVID-19 recession may lead to more people claiming earlier, potentially affecting large numbers of older adults’ financial security in the coming decades.
AARP Social Security Thought Leadership
The AARP Public Policy Institute examines demographic and economic trends that affect the solvency of the Social Security program and the adequacy of benefits. Millions of Americans rely on this vital program for their financial well-being today, and millions more will rely on it in the years ahead.
Earnings inequality accounts for a considerable portion of Social Security’s fiscal challenges. If 90 percent of earnings had been subject to Social Security payroll taxes since 1983:
- the system’s long-term financing gap would be 25 percent lower today and,
- the life of the combined trust funds would last an additional four years above current Social Security projections.