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
Social Security’s complexity was a key theme of the Retirement Research Consortium annual meeting I attended in Washington D.C. last month. The concern at the conference was that the 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.
Let me tell you about the results from the paper presented at the conference, “Social Security Household Benefits: Measuring Program Knowledge.” 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: