When Should Married Men Claim Social Security Benefits?

Anthony WebbSteven A. Sass Wei Sun

IB#8-4

Introduction

Most married men claim Social Security benefits at age 62 or 63, well short of the age that maximizes the expected present value of the average household’s benefits.  That many married men “leave money on the table” is surprising.  It is also problematic.  It results in much lower benefits for surviving spouses and the low incomes of elderly widows are a major social problem.  If married men delayed claiming Social Security benefits, retirement income security would significantly improve.  This brief focuses on the potential gains from delayed claiming and the factors that may influence claiming behavior.  It then considers possible policy responses.