Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 69 No. 3

(released October 2009)
by Barbara A. Butrica, Howard M. Iams, Karen E. Smith, and Eric J. Toder

A large share of traditional defined benefit pension plans have frozen within the past decade and evidence suggests that this trend will continue in the future. This article uses the Model of Income in the Near Term (MINT) microsimulation model to project the impact on boomers' retirement incomes of freezing traditional pension plans and replacing them with 401(k)-type plans. The projections suggest that the largest impact will be for the most recent boomers born between 1961 and 1965.

by Anya Olsen and Russell E. Hudson

The Social Security Administration (SSA) receives reports of earnings for the U.S. working population each year from employers and the Internal Revenue Service. The earnings information received is stored at SSA as the Master Earnings File (MEF) and is used to administer Social Security programs and to conduct research on the populations served by those programs. This article documents the history, content, limitations, complexities, and uses of the MEF (and data files derived from the MEF). It is intended for researchers who use earnings data to study work patterns and their implications, and for those interested in understanding the data used to administer the current-law programs.

by Jeffrey Hemmeter

Although the Social Security Administration actively encourages Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients to work, relatively little is known about how the occupations of those who do work compare with occupations of the nonrecipient population. This article uses the 2007 American Community Survey to estimate dissimilarity indices, which are used to compare the predicted and actual occupational distributions of working SSI recipients with the occupational distributions of the nonrecipient populations with and without disabilities. Although the actual occupational distributions are quite different between these groups, much of the difference can be explained by demographic characteristics, human capital, and disability type.

by Hugo Benítez-Silva and Na Yin

In the past few years, the Social Security Old-Age and Survivors Insurance benefit system in the United States has undergone some of the most significant changes since its inception. Using the public-use microdata extract from the Master Beneficiary Record, we are able to uncover a number of interesting trends in benefit claiming behavior and level of benefit receipt, which can help us understand how the changes in the system are shaping the retirement benefit claiming behavior of older Americans.