Article

A New Approach to Raising Social Security's Earliest Eligibility Age

Center for Retirement Research, Boston College
11/2007; DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.1153415
Source: RePEc

ABSTRACT While Social Security’s Normal Retirement Age (NRA) is increasing to 67, the Earliest Eligibility Age (EEA) remains at 62. Similar plans to increase the EEA raise concerns that they would create excessive hardship on workers that are worn-out or in bad health. One simple rule to increase the EEA is to tie an increase to the number of quarters of covered earnings. Such a provision would allow those with long worklives — presumably the less educated and lower paid — to quit earlier. We provide evidence that this simple rule would not satisfy the goal of preventing undue hardship on certain workers. Thus, this paper considers an alternative policy that ties an increase in the EEA to individuals’ Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME). We show that allowing workers with low AIME to continue to be eligible to receive benefits at age 62 has promise as a policy to protect workers who have low earnings and are in poor health from hardship associated with an increase in the EEA.

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    ABSTRACT: In the early 1980s, Congress responded to the Social Security program’s long-term financing shortfall, in part, by raising the Full Retirement Age (FRA) from 65 to 67. When fully phased in, for those who turn 62 in 2022, workers will have to wait an additional two years to get the same monthly benefit. If they do not postpone claiming, the increase in the FRA will cut their benefits by about 13 percent. Congress did not change the earliest age at which workers can claim. This Earliest Eligibility Age (EEA) remains 62. When the increase in the FRA is fully phased in, workers who claim at 62 will get 70 percent, rather than 80 percent, of their FRA benefit. This has raised concerns that benefits claimed at the EEA will be too low, especially as retirees age and other sources of income decline. One response would be to raise the EEA from 62 to 64, in line with the two-year rise in the FRA. There are, however, two important objections to an increase in the EEA. The primary concern is that it would create hardship for those unable to work or find employment and who lack the resources to support themselves without working until age 64. A second objection is that raising the EEA is unfair to disadvantaged groups with low life expectancy. This brief addresses these concerns by considering an “Elastic” EEA, which gives different workers different earliest eligibility ages.
    03/2008;

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May 21, 2014