Research and Analysis by Daniel Fanaras

The Distributional Effects of Changing the Averaging Period and Minimum Benefit Provisions
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 62, No. 2 (released September 1999)
by Steven H. Sandell, Howard M. Iams, and Daniel Fanaras

This study evaluates the effects of changing the averaging period used to calculate Social Security benefits from 35 years to 38 or 40 years and the introduction of a minimum benefit provision for future retirees born during the early part of the baby boom generation. Proposals to change the averaging period have been recommended by a majority of the 1994–96 Advisory Council on Social Security. Based on the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) matched to Social Security Administration earnings records, the study projects retirement benefits for different subgroups of the population under existing and proposed benefit rules. The magnitudes of the retirees' benefit changes vary by demographic group. The minimum benefit provision substantially mitigates the effects of the change to a 40-year averaging period for some groups of women.