Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 74 No. 4

(released November 2014)
by Barbara A. Smith and Kenneth A. Couch

The Social Security Administration began mailing annual earnings and benefit statements to workers aged 60 or older in 1995, and increased its mailings to include workers in younger age groups in succeeding years. In 1998, the agency commissioned the Gallup Organization to evaluate the effects of these statements on the public's knowledge of Social Security programs and benefits. This article briefly describes the development and implementation of the Social Security Statement; discusses the Gallup surveys conducted in 1998 and 2001; and uses data from those surveys to compare, for workers aged 46 or younger, knowledge about Social Security before and after receipt of the Social Security Statement.

by Melissa A. Z. Knoll and Anya Olsen

Claiming Social Security retirement benefits before the full retirement age (FRA) results in permanently lower benefits, while delaying claiming permanently increases benefits. This article uses Modeling Income in the Near Term data to determine the socioeconomic characteristics of individuals who claim at various ages. The authors then describe a number of novel approaches aimed at encouraging individuals to delay claiming in the months and years before reaching their FRA. Lastly, the authors model one of those approaches to examine how a 1-year delay in claiming affects benefits and poverty in the future.

by Elizabeth Kennedy and Laura King

This study uses administrative data to evaluate the outcomes of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Disability Insurance (DI) applications submitted through the Benefits Entitlement Services Team (B.E.S.T) project, an initiative funded by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services to help individuals experiencing homelessness apply for SSI payments and/or DI benefits. The authors discuss the allowance rates and processing times for B.E.S.T applications, the combination of internal and external methods that supported the B.E.S.T application process, and the characteristics of B.E.S.T applications that increased the likelihood of an allowance.