Many Americans claim Social Security benefits early, though this leaves them with lower monthly payments throughout retirement. We build a lifecycle model that closely tracks claiming patterns under current rules, and we use it to predict claiming delays if, by delaying benefits, people were to receive a lump sum instead of an annuity. We predict that current early claimers would defer claiming by a year given actuarially fair lump sums, and the predictions conform with respondents' answers to a strategic survey about the lump sum. In other words, such a reform could provide an avenue for encouraging delayed retirement without benefit cuts or tax increases. Moreover, many people would still defer claiming even for smaller lump sums.
Journal of Risk and Insurance, Vol. 88, Issue 1, 2021