How Did the Reintroduction of the Social Security Statement Change Workers' Expectations and Plans?

Published in: Social Security Bulletin, Volume 80, No. 4, pages 23–38 (November 2020)

Posted on RAND.org on March 03, 2021

by Philip Armour

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This article examines how the reintroduction of Social Security Statement mailings from September 2014 through December 2016 affected recipients' expectations about Social Security benefits and their benefit claiming decisions. During the reintroduction period, Statements were mailed to workers reaching multiple-of-5 ages, enabling a comparison of results for 2016 recipients, 2014/2015 recipients, and reintroduction-period nonrecipients. I fielded a specialized American Life Panel (ALP) survey to elicit recall of and reactions to receiving the Statement and used earlier ALP modules to control for respondents' prior Social Security knowledge. I find that recipients remember and value the information provided in the Statement, although the effects quickly diminish after receipt. Recipients were likelier than nonrecipients to expect future benefits but were also more likely to expect Congress to enact future benefit cuts. Married female recipients were more likely to expect spousal benefits, and recipients overall were more likely to change their planned claiming age.

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