Seniors Often Underestimate Social Security Benefits, NBER Study Reveals
Financial Consequences of Underestimating Social Security Benefits
According to source, a recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) highlights a common trend among older Americans: they often underestimate their future Social Security benefits, particularly in relation to their full retirement age. While receiving more than anticipated might seem like a pleasant surprise, this miscalculation can disrupt retirement planning and pose financial challenges. The NBER study indicates that older individuals tend to accurately predict when they’ll claim their Social Security benefits, often aligning with their full retirement age.
On average, individuals underestimate their Social Security benefits by $1,896, representing an 11.5% miscalculation compared to the average benefit eventually received at full retirement age. Remarkably, 25% of the study’s participants misjudged their benefits by $5,167 or more when they reached full retirement age. Conversely, 10% overestimate their benefits by at least $5,319 in their calculations for full retirement age.
The main concern is that underestimating these benefits can lead to seniors saving more than necessary or living too frugally during retirement, potentially missing out on a better quality of life. On the other hand, it could prompt some to engage in risky investments in an attempt to increase their retirement income.
Navigating the Complexities of Social Security: Stories from Real Individuals Highlight the Need for Better Education
Anecdotal accounts, such as a story shared by Dennis Shirshikov, a finance professor at the City University of New York, illustrate how these misunderstandings can lead to risky financial decisions even when individuals have reached full retirement age.Confusion regarding Social Security benefits often stems from the system’s intricacies, particularly the varying benefit amounts based on the claiming age, which is closely tied to retirement age.
While most people correctly estimate their retirement age in relation to full retirement age, they struggle to gauge the size of their Social Security benefits at that critical stage. This discrepancy could be due to a lack of understanding of benefit calculations or limited access to accurate information about potential benefits at retirement age. Additional factors contributing to this misunderstanding may include concerns about benefits being reduced due to various factors, such as income or changes in Social Security laws affecting full retirement age.
In light of this, addressing the complexities of Social Security and providing accessible financial education are essential, especially when considering retirement age. Moreover, resources like the Social Security Administration’s website (www.SSA.gov) offer free estimates of monthly benefits, enabling individuals to plan their retirement with greater clarity and precision, particularly with a focus on full retirement age.