We examine the economic status of a sample of new recipients of social security retired-worker benefits shortly after their first receipt of benefits (1982) and 10 years later (1991). The probability that these retired-worker beneficiaries were poor or near-poor is positively and strongly associated with their acceptance of early retired-worker benefits. Early retirees, women who remained single, and women who lost their spouses experienced large declines in economic status over the decade following their first receipt of benefits. Although both women and men who first received benefits at younger ages had lower economic status than did those who became beneficiaries at older ages, this retirement age-related disadvantage increased over the decade for women but not for men.

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