Can the Actuarial Reduction for Social Security Early Retirement Still Be Right?

Source: Alicia H. Munnell and Steven A. Sass, IB#12-6, March 2012

From the abstract:
The option to claim Social Security benefits earlier than the program’s Full Retirement Age, in exchange for receiving an actuarially reduced benefit, is a key feature of the nation’s Social Security program. This principle remained in place when Congress increased the Full Retirement Age from 65 to 67. Most workers choose to claim early and retire on the reduced benefits.

The option to claim early was enacted over 50 years ago, when Congress set 62 as the program’s Earliest Age of Eligibility. To make up for the extra three years of benefit payments, those claiming at 62 received 20 percent less in monthly benefits than if they had claimed at 65. Despite a significant increase in life expectancy in the intervening years, benefits claimed at 62 today are still about 20 percent less than benefits claimed at 65. This brief asks whether this actuarial reduction is still correct…

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