Project: What Do People Know About Social Security Benefits?

picture of a social security card

This study will assess the public's understanding of retirement planning in general and the role of Social Security benefits in particular.

Research team: Arie Kapteyn, RAND; Olivia S. Mitchell, Wharton School; and Mathew Greenwald, Mathew Greenwald and Associates

With the new Consortium, the SSA is taking steps that will lead to the generation of useful materials, websites, and tools that will help educate the public on financial literacy and retirement-related topics. To determine the effectiveness of this campaign and the materials it generates, baseline information should be collected about the public's understanding of retirement planning in general and the role of Social Security benefits in particular. In this project the team will conduct two surveys across a range of age groups to learn how much people understand about social security benefits, the materials mailed out in the Social Security benefits statement, some basic benefit and contribution concepts, survivor benefits, the SSA retirement calculator, and Social Security solvency. The first survey—a telephone survey of 2,000 respondents—is designed to expose major knowledge gaps and identify population groups with the greatest need for educational outreach. The second survey, which will use the ALP to reach another 2,000 respondents, will serve two purposes: (1) cross-validate results obtained from the first survey and (2) provide the necessary baseline so that ALP can capture the effect of various interventions undertaken by the Financial Literacy Center.

Research Findings

What Do People Know About Social Security?

Mathew Greenwald, Arie Kapteyn, Olivia S. Mitchell, Lisa Schneider

How Much Do People Know About Social Security?

Mathew Greenwald, Arie Kapteyn, Olivia S. Mitchell, Lisa Schneider