Wharton Pension Research Council Working Papers

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



We have designed and fielded an experimental module in the 2014 HRS which seeks to measure older persons’ willingness to voluntarily defer claiming of Social Security benefits. In addition, we evaluate the stated willingness of older individuals to work longer, depending on the Social Security incentives offered to delay claiming their benefits. Our project extends previous work by analyzing the results from our HRS module and comparing findings from other data sources which included very much smaller samples of older persons. We show that half of the respondents would delay claiming if no work requirement were in place under the status quo, and only slightly fewer, 46%, with a work requirement. We also asked respondents how large a lump sum they would need with or without a work requirement. In the former case, the average amount needed to induce delayed claiming was about $60,400, while when part-time work was required, the average was $66,700. This implies a low utility value of leisure foregone of only $6,300, or under 20% of average household income.


The research reported herein was performed pursuant to a grant from the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) funded as part of the Michigan Retirement Research Center. Additional research support was provided by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), the German Investment and Asset Management Association (BVI), the Pension Research Council/Boettner Center at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and the Metzler Exchange Professor program. We also acknowledge support from the Research Center SAFE, funded by the State of Hessen initiative for research excellence, LOEWE.


retirement age, labor supply, Social Security, annuity, lump sum

JEL Code

D03, D91, G11, H55

Working Paper Number


Copyright/Permission Statement

Opinions and conclusions expressed herein are solely those of the authors and do not represent the opinions or policy of SSA, any agency of the Federal Government, or any other institution with which the authors are affiliated. ©2016 Maurer and Mitchell. All rights reserved.


We are grateful for expert programming assistant from Yong Yu, and for help with the survey module from the HRS team, particularly Mary Beth Ofstedal. We also benefited from pilot tests conducted at the Wharton Behavioral Labs.



Date Posted: 06 March 2019