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The Reintroduction of the Social Security Statement and Its Effect on Social Security Expectations, Retirement Savings, and Labor Supply across the Age Distribution
WP 2017-373
Philip Armour 

  • Individuals highly value information about their benefits from SSA. Individuals report the statement and my Social Security accounts (an online account on the Social Security website allowing individuals to check their potential benefits) useful for planning for retirement and deciding when to claim Social Security benefits, especially leading up to retirement.
  • After being sent a statement, individuals are more likely to report expecting to receive future benefits, especially disability benefits. They are also less pessimistic about the possibility of future cuts to the program, specifically about a 10 percent drop in their reported likelihood that Congress will make the Social Security system less generous in the next 10 years.
  • Among those already expecting benefits, there does not appear to be much change in expectations for either claiming age or the benefit amount upon claiming. There are also no measurable changes in retirement savings through IRAs, pensions, or other long-term savings vehicles, although these estimates are preliminary and future analyses by subpopulations may allow for more precise measurements.
  • Those who had a my Social Security account tend to be better informed about program details, even before signing up for their accounts.
  • Among those sent statements, many either did not receive them or forgot having received them. These individuals are much more likely to be younger than 30.
  • The effect of being sent a statement recently had a varied impact on work behavior. For those previously working more than 40 hours per week, the statement reduced their hours worked. Being recently sent a statement was also associated with re-entry into the labor force among those previously not working.
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