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Interesting Pandemic Anomaly – Delayed Claiming of Social Security

A Washington Post survey has revealed a surprising dichotomy from what economists expected – the number of people choosing to delay claiming their Social Security benefits went up during the COVID-19 pandemic, even while the number of people retiring from work rose. That was exactly the opposite of what pundits predicted, which was that the pandemic would incent more people to claim Social Security earlier for the added income. Instead, the number of people applying for benefits fell 5% over the last 12 months compared to corresponding previous periods. How to explain that?

There are a number of theories, including that the pandemic-induced work-from-home phenomenon incented some people to stay in the workforce longer, that federal stimulus payments and unemployment extensions provided needed temporary financial support, and that soaring home prices and stock market returns dramatically increased retirees’ nest eggs incenting them to delay claiming Social Security. Some suggested that closing SS offices to the public had an affect too, a theory disputed by the Social Security Administration because applying online continues to be the most popular way to claim.  This entire phenomenon is discussed at length in this Washington Post article by Andrew Van Dam. Click here to read more

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