What's Your SSIQ?

Peering Into the Social Security Knowledge Gap

Most consumers have at least one misperception about benefits

SPRINGFIELD, Mass., June 19, 2015 – Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) today announced the results of a survey aimed to better understand how much Americans know about Social Security retirement benefits.

The results of the survey, which included a true/false quiz about Social Security facts, were concerning: only 28 percent of those surveyed received a passing grade when asked basic questions about Social Security retirement benefits.

Also troubling is that when asked about their level of knowledge about Social Security retirement benefits, only 8 percent 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 ten surveyed (71 percent) 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 percent) 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 percent) 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 percent) think the program will have sufficient funding when they retire. This may be why only 39 percent expect to rely more on Social Security than their personal savings or income in retirement, with just 15 percent expecting to rely solely on Social Security.

many may be leaving Social Security retirement benefits they’re entitled to on the table, or incorrectly assuming what benefits may be available in retiremen

“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.”

MassMutual offers an educational guide for individuals to help make the most of your Social Security retirement benefits. Additional information is also available from the Social Security Administration. To locate a financial services professional to discuss retirement planning needs, visit our website.



Methodology The research was conducted by KRC Research on behalf of MassMutual from February 26 to March 2, 2015 via an online survey among 1,513 Americans (1,000 non-Hispanic age 25 to 65; 513 Hispanic age 18+).

About MassMutual
Founded in 1851, MassMutual is a leading mutual life insurance company that is run for the benefit of its members and participating policyowners. The company has a long history of financial strength and strong performance, and although dividends are not guaranteed, MassMutual has paid dividends to eligible participating policyowners consistently since the 1860s. With whole life insurance as its foundation, MassMutual provides products to help meet the financial needs of clients, such as life insurance, disability income insurance, long term care insurance, retirement/401(k) plan services, and annuities. In addition, the company’s strong and growing network of financial professionals helps clients make good financial decisions for the long-term.

MassMutual Financial Group is a marketing name for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) and its affiliated companies and sales representatives. MassMutual is headquartered in Springfield, Massachusetts and its major affiliates include: Babson Capital Management LLC; Baring Asset Management Limited; Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers LLC; The First Mercantile Trust Company; MassMutual International LLC; MML Investors Services, LLC, Member FINRA and SIPC; OppenheimerFunds, Inc.; and The MassMutual Trust Company, FSB. For more information, visit www.massmutual.com or find MassMutual on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+ and Pinterest.

1 Source: Social Security Administration, Social Security Handbook, Evidence of U.S. Citizenship, §1725; http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/handbook/handbook.17/handbook-1725.html
2 Source: Social Security Administration, Full Retirement Age: If You Were Born between 1943 and 1954; http://www.ssa. gov/retirement/1943.html
3 Source: Social Security Administration, Retirement Planner: Getting Benefits While Working; http://www.socialsecurity.gov/retire 2/whileworking.htm