Which Households Benefit from Delayed Claiming?

Published: 2021
Project ID: UM21-06


Using administrative data, this project will quantify the incentive effects and equity of the Social Security survivor benefit. The project will first analyze incentive effects on the timing of initial claiming of retired-worker benefits by both spouses. The survivor benefit changes effective time horizons, rewarding later claiming by primary earners and earlier claiming by secondary earners. The project will then quantify survivor benefits’ distributional outcomes and induced changes in claiming patterns, incorporating interactions with mortality and earnings differentials among early and late claimers. This will demonstrate which households benefit from delayed claiming and the extent to which the survivor benefit raises Social Security outlays and augments inequality of lifetime benefits.