Do We Need To Fix Americans’ Social Security Knowledge? Placing A Survey Into Context

Written by on April 20, 2021

Does a current survey carried out by MassMutual raises real considerations about People’ understanding of Social Safety, and counsel a necessity for concerted efforts for extra training?


The survey polled 1,500 People nearing retirement, that’s, between the ages of 55 – 65, who haven’t but retired, by asking them 12 true-false questions. They assign a letter-grade rating and conclude that 35% of respondents obtained a failing grade, that’s, answered fewer than 60% of the questions within the ballot appropriately. That’s not as attention-grabbing to me because the solutions on among the particular questions, nevertheless.

Just about all these polled (94%) understood that Social Safety advantages are lowered if taken earlier than full retirement age. A surprisingly-high (to me) 86% knew that advantages are lowered when an individual continues to work after starting advantages however earlier than reaching full retirement age. 78% knew that people might obtain a partner’s profit even with out work historical past of their very own.

However among the training on these subjects can happen in a just-in-time method: as People close to retirement age, they are often assumed to hunt out the related data — and, in truth, in some instances, there’s a clear enhance in data for older survey respondents. Most strikingly, whereas solely 61% of 55 to 59 year-olds knew that full retirement age varies, 74% of 60 – 64 year-olds knew this. Equally, 70% of the older near-retirees, vs. 62% of the youthful ones, knew about spousal advantages for divorced employees.

Of better concern, nevertheless, are two questions having to do with Social Safety reform. 36% of these surveyed didn’t know that “beneath present regulation, Social Safety profit might be lowered for everybody in 2035.” And 27% of People wrongly believed that “The cash that comes out of my paycheck for Social Safety goes into a particular account for me and stays there, incomes curiosity, till I start to obtain Social Safety advantages.” The better the proportion of the inhabitants who consider they “earn” Social Safety with their taxes, and who don’t know that Social Safety can be in danger and not using a authorized change, the tougher it is going to be to truly make the required, and politically tough adjustments.

However is it cheap to anticipate a better stage of information on these points?

Are People much less educated about Social Safety, or different monetary literacy subjects, than we’d have purpose to consider they need to be primarily based on survey knowledge about their normal data of different subjects?

Take into account that the Annenberg Public Coverage Middle conducts an annual survey of civics data. Survey respondents had been requested to call any of the rights assured by the First Modification. Whereas 73% knew that the First Modification assured freedom of speech, solely 47% knew it protected freedom of faith, and 52%, freedom of the press. When requested concerning the three branches of presidency, 23% couldn’t title any of them, and solely 51% might title all three.

In a separate survey carried out by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), solely 55% of People had been capable of determine Franklin D. Roosevelt because the architect of the New Deal. Solely 37% knew that Senators serve for six years and Representatives for two years. 46% knew that John Roberts was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court docket. 63% recognized the beginning of the Civil Battle in 1861 (vs. 1820, 1787, or 1914 as alternate decisions). However, 74% knew that Nancy Pelosi is the present Speaker of the Home, 76% knew that the Chilly Battle was the wrestle between Communism and Democracy, and 78% knew that Harriet Tubman guided slaves via the Underground Railroad.

Lastly, in research of literacy ranges amongst American adults, in 2017, solely half carried out on the “intermediate” stage, outlined variously as studying at an eighth grade stage, or studying at a middle-school stage. Worse, 19% of People carried out at or under the “useful” literacy stage, equal to early elementary faculty. These scores are, because it seems, completely odd, with the US scoring solely barely above common for the OECD nations each when it comes to common rating and the % scoring at stage three or above.

Given this stage of information of fundamental info about American historical past and civics, and this total literacy stage, it turns into virtually stunning that among the MassMutual survey questions (you may learn all of them on the hyperlink) acquired such comparatively excessive scores as they did — maybe as a result of the age teams surveyed had been already starting to take a look at how Social Safety impacts them personally. (In truth, the ACTA survey exhibits scores by age group: 46% of 18 – 29 year-olds obtained the beginning of the Civil Battle right however 76% of these 60+ did so; 48% of 18 – 29 year-olds and 67% of 60+’s obtained the New Deal originator right.)

All of which raises a really totally different query: to what extent is it cheap to maintain searching for options that contain rising monetary data, particularly on the margins, in comparison with constructing programs which work for individuals with out requiring larger ranges of literacy, numeracy, or content material data?

As all the time, you’re invited to remark at!

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