Insight: THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CHOICE ARCHITECTURE IN SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFIT CLAIMING DECISIONS
By Emerson Sprick
IDEAS IN THE INSIGHT YOU CAN PUT INTO ACTION
These articles suggest that the way that the question of when to claim Social Security retirement benefits is framed can significantly influence pre-retirees’ decisions. The authors show three effective frames and their results: (1) Simply describing monthly benefit amounts if claimed at age 66 and if claimed at age 65 or age 67 leads to later claiming than the break-even framing used by the Social Security Administration (SSA). (2) Anchoring the claiming decision at later ages delays when pre-retirees expect to claim benefits. (3) Suggesting to pre-retirees that they consider a checklist of reasons they might delay claiming benefits before they consider a checklist of reasons they might claim early can significantly delay when they expect to claim benefits. Delaying benefit claiming would be beneficial for most—but not all—pre-retirees. The two articles this Insight considers suggest that using a lifestyle-informed life expectancy calculator to tailor the framing can help even those who should claim early make better decisions.
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About the Author
Emerson Sprick is a policy analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, DC. He earned a master’s degree in economics from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri.