Policy Note | Challenging the widespread assumption that people claim their retirement benefits only when they retire, more than one-fifth of older workers in the United States start claiming Social Security benefits as soon as they are eligible, even while working for pay. Low-income older workers are more than three times as likely as high-income workers to claim early, indicating a reliance on Social Security payments to supplement low wages. Those who claim before the full retirement age (also known as the Normal Retirement Age) will receive reduced benefits throughout their lives, leaving them financially vulnerable once they stop working. Because so many older workers collect reduced Social Security benefits, raising the retirement age will have little effect on getting people to work longer and will simply reduce benefits further. Instead, reforms should focus on policies like creating an Older Workers Bureau to support work at older ages, and bolstering Social Security benefits for those who risk falling into poverty in retirement.