The rules for claiming social security retirement benefits have become so complicated that it’s practically impossible for the typical near-retiree to navigate the system intelligently. Get this: The Social Security handbook has nearly 3,000 rules.
When to Claim Social Security: A Theme for Retirement Researchers
Tangled rules are keeping many people — especially couples — from getting the most out of the Social Security benefits they earned.
In recent years, researchers have shown that married couples can face several thousand possible when-to-claim combinations. Economists Katherine Carman and Angela A. Hung of the Rand Corporation created a survey on Social Security spousal and survivor benefits to learn more about these three issues:
Most survey respondents got the answers wrong. On average, they were only correct on 33 percent of questions about spousal benefits and 32 percent on survivor benefits. Nearly one in five (18 percent) wrongly believed that someone who never worked can’t claim benefits even if his or her spouse is entitled to Social Security.
- Do people know when they are entitled to Social Security spousal benefits?
- Do people know how spousal and survivors benefits are determined?
- Do people know whether, and how, the timing of claiming Social Security impacts their spousal and survivors benefits?