Should We Raise Social Security’s Earliest Eligibility Age?

Alicia H. MunnellKevin B. MemeKevin E. Cahill Natalia Jivan

IB#18

Introduction

Social Security’s Earliest Eligibility Age (EEA) allows one to claim reduced benefits as early as age 62. For full benefits, individuals must wait until the Normal Retirement Age (NRA), which was traditionally 65 but is gradually increasing to 67. So, Americans have a choice to make when they reach their early 60s: claim a reduced Social Security benefit right away or delay until some further date and receive a larger benefit. The reduction for claiming benefits early is designed to be actuarially fair, i.e. monthly benefits are lowered by an amount that offsets the longer period for which they will be received. The total amount that the average person can expect to receive over his or her lifetime thus does not depend on when benefits are claimed…