Social Security Claiming: COVID-19 vs. Great Recession


The brief’s key findings are:

  • In early 2020, many thought the COVID crisis – like the Great Recession – might force many workers to claim Social Security early.
  • But the COVID economy turned out very different, with robust growth in the stock market and substantial unemployment relief.
  • The analysis compared the relative impacts of the two recessions on early claiming by earnings group and found that:
    • During COVID, the booming stock market induced early claiming among workers with retirement assets;
    • while the generous unemployment benefits decreased early claiming for many lower-paid workers.
  • Overall, the latter effect more than cancelled out the former, so COVID actually led to a slight decline in early claiming.

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