We’ve all heard the dire prediction that the Social Security trust fund will run out of money soon, possibly as early as 2034.
It turns out that articles with doomsday headlines about Social Security may have a significant impact on when retirees decide to file for benefits.
According to a new report from Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research, workers who read headlines about the expected trust fund depletion date planned to claim benefits a year earlier on average than those in a control group.
On the surface, that appears to be a rational decision.However, researchers at the center believe it is more likely due to a lack of understanding of the true state of the Social Security program, which is not as dire as the headlines suggest.
These headlines ignore the fact that even after draining the trust fund, there would still be enough ongoing revenue to support 75% of scheduled benefits, according to study authors Laura Quinby and Gal Wettstein.
Readers who are taken in by such headlines may believe that all future benefits are in jeopardy, according to the authors.This may encourage them to make decisions about Social Security benefits that they would not otherwise make, potentially jeopardizing their long-term retirement plans.
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Workers, for example, may file claims earlier than they would otherwise in the hope that future reforms will protect those who are already receiving benefits.Claiming benefits at 62 instead of the Full Retirement Age (FRA) currently reduces monthly benefits by 30%, and recent evidence suggests that lifetime benefits are also reduced.
The study’s authors also claim that their findings show that workers have no plans to increase their savings to compensate for future benefit cuts.
According to the researchers, media coverage of the trust fund has caused many workers to fear an unreasonably large cut in their future Social Security benefits.If these workers file for benefits early, they will be locked into lower monthly benefits unless they increase their savings to cover the difference.
Should you file for benefits sooner or later? The answer is different for everyone.For more information, go to
- When is it Beneficial to File for Social Security Benefits Early?
- 7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Take Social Security When You’re 62
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