NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Workers Confused About Social Security Benefits

June 15, 1999

Starting next year, the age at which Americans can qualify for full Social Security benefits will slowly increase. But large numbers of workers are unaware of the changes, a current survey reveals.

The Retirement Confidence Survey, sponsored by the Employee Benefit Research Institute in cooperation with the American Savings Education Council and Mathew Greenwald & Associates, found that:

  • Only 16 percent of workers know when they will be able to claim full benefits and 42 percent expect to be eligible one to three years sooner than they actually will.
  • When workers were asked what they expect to be their most important source of income when they retire, 49 percent said personal savings and only 12 percent said it would be Social Security.
  • But when retirees were asked to name their primary source of income, only 18 percent said personal savings, while 39 percent named Social Security.

In reality, changes made by Congress will begin to affect workers born in 1938 and beyond. The age at which workers can qualify for full benefits will slowly increase from 65 to 67. Workers born from 1943 through 1954 will receive full benefits at 66.

By 2022, when the phase-in is complete, those born in 1960 and after will have to wait until age 67 to get full benefits.

Workers will still be able to collect 80 percent of benefits at age 62. But that will gradually drop to 70 percent by 2022.

To clear up the confusion, the Social Security Administration will start mailing to workers 25 and over annual statements of estimated benefits starting October 1.

Source: Christine Dugas, "Workers Unclear About Social Security," USA Today, June 15, 1999.


Browse more articles on Tax and Spending Issues