SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Results from a new true/false quiz reveal that only 28% received a passing grade when asked basic questions about Social Security retirement benefits.
On June 15, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) announced the results of a survey aimed to better understand how much Americans know about Social Security retirement benefits.
While just 1 in 4 having even a basic understanding of this important benefit is disturbing, also troubling is that when asked about their level of knowledge about Social Security retirement benefits, only 8% of those surveyed consider themselves to be very knowledgeable. And that perception mirrors reality. Nearly all surveyed hold at least one misperception about Social Security – only one survey respondent answered all true/false questions correctly.
• To test your Social Security IQ, take the MassMutual quiz
"Perhaps the greatest Social Security deficit in this country is the lack of education around the retirement benefits of the program, which presents an opportunity and responsibility to financial professionals," said Michael R. Fanning Executive Vice President, U.S. Insurance Group, MassMutual. "With millions of Americans nearing retirement each year, many may be at risk of underutilizing a critical component of their retirement income stream."
The findings also show gaps in knowledge about Social Security eligibility, which may have a negative impact on planning and saving for retirement:
- Citizenship is not a requirement: Three-quarters of survey respondents think that being an American citizen is necessary to receive Social Security retirement benefits, which is incorrect.
- Retirement age is a mystery: More than seven in 10 surveyed (71%) incorrectly believe that full Social Security retirement age is 65, when the age actually varies depending on birth year.
- Continuing to work and age affect benefits: More than half of those surveyed (55%) incorrectly believe that they can continue working while collecting full Social Security retirement benefits regardless of their age.
According to the research, Americans remain optimistic about the future of Social Security. More than three out of five surveyed (63%) believe Social Security will be available to them when they retire, with a quarter of those surveyed strongly holding that belief. However, less than half (45%) think the program will have sufficient funding when they retire. This may be why only 39% expect to rely more on Social Security than their personal savings or income in retirement, with just 15% expecting to rely solely on Social Security.
"Americans who lack the proper knowledge and information about Social Security may be putting their retirement planning in jeopardy," said Phil Michalowski, Vice President, U.S. Insurance Group, MassMutual. "In fact, many may be leaving Social Security retirement benefits they're entitled to on the table, or incorrectly assuming what benefits may be available in retirement."
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