Demographic and Economic Characteristics of Social Security Retiree Families

HRD-82-131: Published: Sep 28, 1982. Publicly Released: Oct 8, 1982.

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GAO developed demographic and financial data on newly entitled social security retiree families as a backdrop against which proposals to limit or curtail benefits to the spouses and dependent children of future retirees could be examined.

GAO found that a higher percentage of workers are retiring early, at age 62 to 64, now than in the past. In 1965, early retirees accounted for 66 percent of all new awards paid; from 1975 to 1980 that percentage ranged from 87 to 90. In addition, GAO found that age eligibility has replaced poor health as the main reason given for retiring. About 67 percent of the newly entitled beneficiaries surveyed by GAO reported that poor health was not a reason for retiring; 65 percent reported that they applied because they had reached retirement age, 62 or older. The availability of spouse and child benefits did not appear to be a major factor in most retirement decisions.

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