Stylized Facts and Incentive Effects Related to Claiming of Retirement Benefits Based on Social Security Administration Data

34 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2009

See all articles by Wojciech Kopczuk

Wojciech Kopczuk

Columbia University - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences - Department of Economics; Columbia University - School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Jae Song

U.S. Social Security Administration

Date Written: October 1, 2008

Abstract

We rely on the Master Beneficiary File to document a number of facts regarding claiming of Social Security benefits and quality of date of birth data in administrative files. We then assess the impact of changes in retirement incentives that have taken place since 2000 on claiming. We find evidence of non-trivial misreporting or clerical errors in the dates of births that give rise to systematic patterns but nevertheless appear to be fairly random. We also confirm significant tendency to claim in January or on birthdays, but we find that these patterns are still sensitive to incentive effects. Relying on the discontinuity in the Early Entitlement Age that occurs for people born on the second day of any month, we find evidence that people do not have single-peaked preferences over claiming age: relaxing the early retirement constraint leads to acceleration of retirement by some people for whom the constraint would not be otherwise binding. One possible explanation for this pattern is a preference for retiring at one's birthday. We take advantage of a change in the full retirement age and find that there remains unusually large (relative to other birthdays) number of people who claim around their 65th birthday, supporting the idea that Medicare eligibility has an impact on claiming retirement benefits. Finally, we confirm that elimination of the earnings test in 2000 for those above full retirement age accelerated retirements and find that it also led to a significant weakening of the January effect in that group, bolstering the idea that the January effect is sensitive to economic incentives.

Suggested Citation

Kopczuk, Wojciech and Song, Jae, Stylized Facts and Incentive Effects Related to Claiming of Retirement Benefits Based on Social Security Administration Data (October 1, 2008). Michigan Retirement Research Center Research Paper No. 2008-200, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1338222 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1338222

Wojciech Kopczuk (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences - Department of Economics ( email )

420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Columbia University - School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA)

420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Jae Song

U.S. Social Security Administration ( email )

Washington, DC 20254
United States
202-358-6403 (Phone)
202-358-6192 (Fax)

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