David R. Henderson  

Retirement Policy

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Seasteading, Strategic Fertili... Parents, Children, and Liberty...

Co-blogger Bryan Caplan asks:

Is there any country on earth that partly bases retirement benefits on the retirees' number of children?

I was waiting for one of the commenters to mention the obvious example but no one did. So I will. The United States.

If you retire and qualify for Social Security, then you get an extra payment for every child you have under age 18. A friend of mine who retired at age 65 a year ago went down to the Social Security office in her city to register. She was asked, "Do you have any children under age 18?"

"One," she answered, "why?"

"Because then you get an extra monthly payment until the child turns 18," answered the Social Security employee.

"I guess this is pretty rare, right? I had our two daughters late in life because I couldn't get pregnant and so we adopted when I was in my late forties," said my friend.

"Not at all," said the Social Security employee. "It's quite common in this area. Grandparents adopt their grandchildren."


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CATEGORIES: Social Security



COMMENTS (5 to date)
PatrickC writes:

David -
Somehow I'm guessing that Bryan was referring not to people who have kids under the age of 18, but rather people who simply have kids.

Given the small portion of the retired population with kids

Steve Sailer writes:

When I was in college and my father retired at 63, I got a small Social Security check in the mail each month for about a half year until I turned 21.

Have they since lowered the maximum age to 18?

Rachel writes:

[Comment removed for supplying false email address. Email the webmaster@econlib.org to request restoring this comment. A valid email address is required to post comments on EconLog.--Econlib Ed.]

mulp writes:

Have they since lowered the maximum age to 18?

Yes. They eliminated the dependent benefit continuing to age 21 if still in school, otherwise ending at 18.

Technically, the retiree benefit is not increased by having a dependent, and in most cases decreases, because the dependent benefit belongs to the dependent. That's why Steve Sailor got the SS check. When the child is a minor, the check is deposited to the guardian account in the child's name, and the guardian must file a trustee statement attesting to the benefit going to the child's support.

Chris Koresko writes:

Would it make sense to link the size of a retiree's Social Security payment to the number of kids he has in the workforce paying Social Security taxes?

After all, if not for SS it is likely that working people would be spending more of their income taking care of their parents; therefore, such a rule would help reduce the redistribution from large families to small ones.

Just a thought; I'm not advocating this since I haven't thought it through.

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