The Behavioral and Consumption Effects of Social Security Changes
Social Security’s Trust Fund is projected to be exhausted in 2034. A variety of changes to the program have been put forward that would either push this date out into the future or delay it indefinitely. Some of these changes would cut benefits – e.g., increasing the Full Retirement Age (FRA) to 69 – while others would increase program revenue – e.g., increasing the payroll tax. While Social Security’s Office of the Chief Actuary projects the financial impact on the program of a wide variety of changes, understanding the impact of these changes on recipients’ behavior and well-being is also a valuable exercise. This paper uses the Gustman and Steinmeier structural model to analyze the effects of four changes to the Social Security program on recipients’ retirement timing and household consumption.