Complications from COVID-19 are known to be more severe in older populations and observers have speculated whether COVID-19 will force or at least encourage older workers to retire as early as they can. Analysts believe the answer is ‘yes’. For many years, financial advisors have been encouraging pre-retirees to wait as long after age 62 as possible before claiming Social Security benefits, in order to maximize the benefits and extend the wage-earning years. Beginning about the year 2000, a steady decline in the percent of 62 year olds claiming social security benefits began, and has since dropped by about half, from the 60% range to the 30% range. During the Great Recession, though, the percentage of 62-year-olds claiming Social Security spiked from 42.2% in 2007 to 46.9% in 2009 before again dropping back to the downtrend. Analysts expect this pattern to repeat itself in the wake of COVID-19. In fact, preliminary data from the monthly Current Population Survey shows that an uptick in earliest-possible retirements and social security claims has already begun. Chart from Center for Retirement Research, Boston College.
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