October 29, 2015
Fewer Boomers Get Social Security at 62
The best way for most individuals to increase their retirement income is by delaying Social Security – each year they wait significantly boosts their monthly benefit check.
It seems that baby boomers are getting the message. The share of people who claim their Social Security benefits at age 62 – as soon as they’re eligible – is falling, and falling more rapidly than previously thought.
The share of 62-year-old men who claimed immediately dropped from 56 percent in 1996 to 36 percent in 2013, according to the Center for Retirement Research, which supports this blog. For women with the same birth years, the share of 62-year-old claimers declined from 63 percent to 40 percent.
The Center also confirmed that more people are waiting to sign up for their benefits until after their full retirement age under the program, which is 66 for most baby boomers. Waiting provides at least one-third more in their monthly Social Security checks than the 62-year-old claimers receive.
The pace of this promising trend had been masked by the traditional approach for assessing claiming age patterns, which shows 62-year-olds as a percentage of people of all ages who sign up for benefits in a given year. This way of looking at the data provided an accurate picture when each successive age group was roughly similar in size. But the picture became distorted as baby boomers moved through the pipeline and began turning 62 in larger numbers.
In the new analysis, which is based on unpublished data from the U.S. Social Security Administration, the Center was able to track how many people born in each individual year are claiming once they turn 62, then 63, then 64 – and up to age 70.
While recent trends indicate significant progress in delaying claiming, well over one-third of boomers are still signing up for Social Security at 62. What remains unclear is whether those who choose to do so can afford to lock in the much smaller monthly benefit that comes with claiming early.