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Selected Research & Analysis: Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) > Early Retirees

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Early Eligibility Age Beneficiaries in 2050
Population Projection (released March 2015)
Working and Claiming Behavior at Social Security's Early Eligibility Age Among Men by Lifetime Earnings Decile
ORES Working Paper No. 115 (released September 2020)
by Hilary Waldron

Using a merged internal research file of administrative data from the Social Security Administration, the author examines men's working and retired-worker benefit claiming behavior at and around Social Security's early eligibility age of 62, and disaggregates the results by lifetime earnings decile. She also examines how mortality risk varies among men exhibiting different working and claiming behaviors, before and after controlling for the lifetime earnings decile to which they belong. This paper follows up ORES Working Paper No. 114, which details the study methodology and presents summary findings on men's and women's working and claiming behavior. Both papers find substantial heterogeneity in working and claiming behavior at age 62; in this paper, while differences in men's working and claiming behavior were sometimes observed between lifetime earnings deciles, that heterogeneity in behavior was also observed within each lifetime earnings decile.

Trends in Working and Claiming Behavior at Social Security's Early Eligibility Age by Sex
ORES Working Paper No. 114 (released August 2020)
by Hilary Waldron

For this working paper, the author uses a merged internal research file of administrative data from the Social Security Administration to examine working and retired-worker benefit claiming behavior at and around Social Security's early eligibility age of 62, by sex. The author defines various combinations of working and benefit-claiming behavior at or near age 62, for which she presents statistics indicating trends in behavior patterns for men and women born in the years from 1937 through 1944. This paper is an introductory companion to the forthcoming ORES Working Paper No. 115, which focuses on men's working and claiming behavior and disaggregates the results by lifetime earnings decile.

Employment at Older Ages and Social Security Benefit Claiming, 1980–2018
Research and Statistics Note No. 2020-01 (released April 2020)
by Patrick J. Purcell

A retired worker's Social Security benefit depends in part on the age at which he or she claims benefits. Working longer and claiming benefits later increase the monthly benefit. Information about trends in employment at older ages and the age at which individuals claim Social Security benefits can help policymakers assess the effectiveness of current policies in influencing the timing of retirement and benefit claims. Both the labor force participation rate (LFPR) among older Americans and the age at which they claim Social Security retirement benefits have risen in recent years. For example, from 2000 through 2018, the LFPR among individuals aged 65–69 rose from 30 percent to 38 percent for men and from 19 percent to 29 percent for women. Since 2000, the proportion of fully insured men and women who claim retirement benefits at the earliest eligibility age of 62 has declined substantially.

Do Early Retirees Die Early? Evidence from Three Independent Data Sets
ORES Working Paper No. 97 (released July 2002)
by Hilary Waldron

In a 2001 working paper, Links Between Early Retirement and Mortality (ORES Working Paper No. 93), the author used cross-sectional Current Population Survey (CPS) matched to longitudinal Social Security administration data and found that men who retire early die sooner than men who retire at age 65 or older. Estimates of relative mortality risk control for current age, year of birth, education, marital status in 1973, and race, and the sample is restricted to men who have lived to at least age 65.

This paper uses the 1982 New Beneficiary Survey and a 1 percent extract of the Social Security Administration's year 2000 Master Beneficiary Records to test whether the mortality differentials reported in the author's earlier work can be replicated in other independent data sets.

Early Retirees Under Social Security: Health Status and Economic Resources
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 63, No. 4 (released September 2001)
by Michael V. Leonesio, Denton R. Vaughan, and Bernard Wixon

Policies that would reduce or eliminate Social Security benefits for early retirees could have adverse consequences for older workers in poor health. This article documents the health and financial circumstances of beneficiaries aged 62–64. It examines the extent to which poor health limits work among early retirees and assesses the extent to which curtailment of early retirement benefits might lead to increases in the Disability Insurance program rolls.

Links Between Early Retirement and Mortality
ORES Working Paper No. 93 (released August 2001)
by Hilary Waldron

In this paper, the author uses the 1973 cross-sectional Current Population Survey (CPS) matched to longitudinal Social Security administrative data (through 1998) to examine the relationship between retirement age and mortality for men who have lived to at least age 65 by 1997 or earlier. Logistic regression results indicate that controlling for current age, year of birth, education, marital status in 1973, and race, men who retire early die sooner than men who retire at age 65 or older. A positive correlation between age of retirement and life expectancy may suggest that retirement age is correlated with health in the 1973 CPS; however, the 1973 CPS data do not provide the ability to test that hypothesis directly.

Early Retirees Under Social Security: Health Status and Economic Resources
ORES Working Paper No. 86 (released August 2000)
by Michael V. Leonesio, Denton R. Vaughan, and Bernard Wixon

Some proposals to change the Social Security program to ensure long-run solvency would reduce or eliminate benefits to some early retirees. To what extent might those benefit reductions cause hardship for individuals with precarious financial circumstances and whose health appears to limit their ability to offset reductions in Social Security income through increased earnings? Our research is intended to identify the size and characteristics of the population that might be at risk as a consequence of such changes.

The central finding is that over 20 percent of early Social Security retirees have health problems that substantially impair their ability to work. In fact, among those aged 62–64 who are severely impaired, there are as many Old-Age and Survivors Insurance beneficiaries as there are beneficiaries under SSA's two disability programs. The retirement program functions as a substantial, albeit unofficial, disability program for this age group. Moreover, the majority of the most severely impaired early retirees would not qualify for Disability Insurance benefits.

Who Is "62 Enough"? Identifying Respondents Eligible for Social Security Early Retirement Benefits in the Health and Retirement Study
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 62, No. 3 (released January 2000)
by Janice A. Olson

Workers are not instantly eligible for Social Security retirement benefits on their 62nd birthdays, nor can they receive benefits in the month they turn 62. This note discusses how well researchers can do using data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to identify respondents old enough to receive and report early Social Security retirement benefits. It shows that only some workers aged 62 at the time of an HRS interview will be "62 enough" to have received a Social Security benefit and reported it in the survey.

Who Is "62 Enough": Identifying Eligibles for Social Security Early Retirement in the Health and Retirement Study
ORES Working Paper No. 85 (released September 1999)
by Janice A. Olson

Either the normal retirement age (NRA) or the earliest eligibility age (EEA) for Social Security retirement benefits would be increased under many proposals for Social Security reform. As a consequence, research interest in who retires at early ages and the potential effects of an increase in the NRA or EEA has grown. This note discusses how well researchers can do using data from the Health and Retirement Study in identifying the pool of respondents who could have received early Social Security retirement benefits.

A Look at Very Early Retirees
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 52, No. 3 (released March 1989)
by Michael D. Packard and Virginia P. Reno
Mortality and Early Retirement
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 45, No. 12 (released December 1982)
Why Do People Retire From Work Early?
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 45, No. 9 (released September 1982)
by Robert J. Myers
The Health of Very Early Retirees
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 45, No. 9 (released September 1982)
by Eric R. Kingson
Early Labor-Force Withdrawal of Men: Participants and Nonparticipants Aged 58–63
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 37, No. 8 (released August 1974)
by Karen Schwab
Men Who Claim Benefits Before Age 65: Findings from the Survey of New Beneficiaries, 1968
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 33, No. 11 (released November 1970)
by Patience Lauriat and William T. Rabin
Another Dimension to Measuring Early Retirement
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 30, No. 12 (released December 1967)
Measuring Early Retirement: New Benefit Awards Series
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 30, No. 10 (released October 1967)
Reduced Benefit Awards to Retired Workers: Measuring Extent of Early Retirement
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 29, No. 10 (released October 1966)
by Harry Shulman
Early Retirement and Work-Life Experience
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 29, No. 3 (released March 1966)
by Lenore A. Epstein
Old-Age Benefits For Workers Retiring Before Age 65
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 29, No. 2 (released February 1966)
by Saul Waldman
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance: Early-Retirement Provisions
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 24, No. 10 (released October 1961)
by Marice C. Hart