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Social Security Age To Retire For Full Benefits

How Soon Can I Take Social Security

What is the Full Retirement Age for Social Security?

When it comes to receiving the maximum Social Security benefit possible, timing is important. Sometimes beneficiaries may receive more by delaying withdrawal, but some older adults may need the funds sooner.

Start by asking yourself some questions:

  • Do I want to retire early?
  • Do I want to/need to work past age 70?
  • What happens to my Medicare if I work past age 65?

The SSA website offers future planning calculators, opens new window to help you estimate things that can affect retirement. These include life expectancy, pension eligibility, spousal benefits and retirement age.2

While you can take benefits as early as age 62, it may not be recommended. Only those on disability, or surviving spouses, can take Social Security earlier than 62.3

Your full retirement age, also known as normal retirement age, determines if you can receive full benefits. While the original full retirement age was 65 for all, heres a snapshot of how the law has changed:

If you take Social Security up to 36 months before your full retirement age, your benefit will be permanently reduced by 5/9 of 1%. If you withdraw more than 36 months early, your benefit is reduced by 5/12 of 1% each month.4

When Should You Start Collecting Social Security Benefits

To determine when you should start taking your benefits, its important to understand how much your check is affected by when you claim your benefit. As mentioned before, you can claim your benefit as early as age 62 but reaching full retirement age can secure your full benefit.

So when exactly is the full retirement age for Social Security? That depends on when you were born.

Year of birth
65 + 2 months for each year past 1937
1943-1954
66 + 2 months for each year past 1954
1960 and later 67

While the full retirement age used to be 65, changes to the program have increased that age. For example, those born in 1955 now have to wait an extra two months beyond age 66 to claim their full benefit. Someone born in 1959, for example, would have to wait until age 66 and 10 months to get the full benefit. Anyone born in 1960 or later, receives their full benefit at 67.

But some retirees choose to wait even longer. You may wait until as late as age 70 to claim your benefit, but then you must take it. Youll receive a bigger check for doing so.

So, what is the upside to delaying your Social Security benefit after age 62? Your check wont get hit by a serious benefit reduction. Heres how much a $1,000 monthly check will become if you claim your benefit as soon as youre eligible at age 62.

Year of birth If you file at 62, benefit reduced by: A $1,000 check becomes
$700

Watch Out For Hidden Costs

Youll also want to consider other lifestyle factors, especially Medicare. Americans become eligible for federal health insurance coverage at age 65, well after when you can begin to file for Social Security.

If you stop working at age 62 and lose health insurance, you have to get supplemental insurance to bridge the gap until you turn 65 and Medicare kicks in, Neiser says.

If you work during retirement, you have another incentive to delay collecting Social Security. Earning too much at a job after you begin collecting your benefit can reduce your payout, but only if you have yet to hit full retirement age.

However, when you hit full retirement age, your benefit will increase to account for any benefit that was withheld earlier due to working. Heres how much you can earn and not get hit.

If youre younger than full retirement age for all of 2022, the Social Security Administration will deduct $1 of your monthly check for every $2 you earn above $19,560 per year.

If you reach full retirement age in 2022, the administration deducts $1 of your monthly check for every $3 you earn above $51,960 until the month you reach retirement age.

Youll also owe Social Security and Medicare tax on your earnings, even if youre already receiving benefits.

So those are some potential pitfalls to claiming Social Security early.

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Working After Full Retirement Age Faq

Retirees may work while collecting Social Security benefits, but those younger than their FRA will be subject to the retirement earnings test .

Under this test, if your earnings exceed a certain limit , you will temporarily forfeit some or all of your benefits. Once you reach full retirement age, your benefit is recalculated and you may receive most of that money back.

Working After Beginning Benefits May Temporarily Reduce Them

Changes Ahead For Social Security?

If you file for Social Security benefits before your full retirement age but keep working, the Social Security Administration will temporarily reduce your benefit payments. For 2022, the amount of the reduction is $1 for each $2 you earn above $19,560.

See: 6 Things You Must Do When Planning For Retirement

If you reach full retirement age in 2022, the reduction drops to $1 for every $3 you earn above $51,960, until the month you reach full retirement age. Thereafter, there is no reduction no matter how much you earn.

Bear in mind that these reductions are only temporary. Once you reach full retirement age, your monthly benefit will be adjusted upwards to compensate you for the original reductions.

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What If I Delay Taking My Benefits

If you retire sometime between your full retirement age and age 70, you typically earn a “delayed retirement” credit for your own benefits . For example, say you were born in 1960, and your full retirement age is 67. If you start your benefits at age 69, you would receive a credit of 8% per year multiplied by two . This means your benefit would be 16% higher than the amount you would have received at age 67.

Social Security: 6 Numbers You Need To Know

If you are wondering about Social Security earnings limits, what is full retirement age, and average Social Security benefits, here are six numbers you should know.

Learn: What Is the Average Social Security Benefit at Age 62?

Keep in mind that every Social Security rule carries exceptions and rules are subject to change. Its best to always reference the Social Security website, SSA.gov. You can also log in to your Social Security account online for specifics regarding your benefits.

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Fact #: Social Security Is More Than Just A Retirement Program It Also Provides Important Life Insurance And Disability Insurance Protection

Over 65 million people, or more than 1 in every 6 U.S. residents, collected Social Security benefits in January 2022. While older adults make up about 4 in 5 beneficiaries, another one-fifth of beneficiaries received Social Security Disability Insurance or were young survivors of deceased workers.

In addition to Social Securitys retirement benefits, workers earn life insurance and SSDI protection by making Social Security payroll tax contributions:

  • About 96 percent of people aged 20-49 who worked in jobs covered by Social Security in 2020 have earned life insurance protection through Social Security.
  • For a young worker with average earnings, a spouse, and two children, thats equivalent to a life insurance policy with a face value of nearly $800,000 in 2020, according to Social Securitys actuaries.
  • About 89 percent of people aged 21-64 who worked in covered employment in 2020 are insured through Social Security in case of severe disability.

The risk of disability or premature death is greater than many people realize. Some 7 percent of recent entrants to the labor force will die before reaching the full retirement age, and many more will become disabled.

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Why Should I Wait

The Full Retirement Age for Social Security Answered

You can take your Social Security benefits early or when you reach retirement age. You can also delay benefits.5 Whether you’re still working or have budgeted enough to live without Social Security benefits, you may be on the plus side when it comes to your monthly payout.

If your full retirement age is 66 or older, check out this chart, opens new window to see how delaying retirementeven just by several monthscould affect your Social Security benefits to your advantage.

You can also use this retirement benefits planner, opens new window to determine the best time to access your Social Security benefits.

Read Also: When Can You Get Social Security Benefits

What Else Affects Your Retirement Benefits

Everyones retirement is unique. Beyond deciding when to begin receiving retirement benefits, other factors that can affect your benefits include whether you continue to work, what type of job you had, and if you have a pension from certain jobs.

Continuing To Work

You can choose to keep working beyond your full retirement age. If you do, you can increase your future Social Security benefits. Each extra year you work adds another year of earnings to your Social Security record. Higher lifetime earnings can mean higher benefits when you choose to receive benefits.

Specific Types Of Earnings

While Social Security earnings are calculated the same way for most American workers, there are some types of earnings that have additional rules.

Earning types with special rules include:

Pensions And Other Factors

Pensions and taxes have the potential to impact your retirement benefit. Review the resources below on pensions and other factors you should consider:

Ssa Benefits And Medicare

So lets go back to how your full retirement age and Medicare may interact. The biggest thing is that in the past, at age 65, you both got your SSA benefits and became Medicare eligible. This meant you could use your SSA benefits to help pay for Medicare. However, with the full retirement age being at least a year or more past 65, you need to think carefully about when you take your SSA benefits if you want to use them for Medicare costs.

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If You Were Born Between 1960 Your Full Retirement Age Is 67

You can start your Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62, but the benefit amount you receive will be less than your full retirement benefit amount.

The chart below provides examples of the percentage of your full retirement benefit amount you and your spouse would receive from age 62 up to your full retirement age.

Do You Expect To Have Additional Sources Of Retirement Income Beyond Social Security

Raising Social Securityâs Retirement Age Cuts Benefits for All Retirees ...

Continue saving in the coming years.

Social Security won’t replace all of your pre-retirement income. On average, Social Security replaces 40 percent of a worker’s income. That means your retirement savings, pension, 401, or Individual Retirement Account will need to fill the gap. Claiming at your full Social Security benefit age or later can minimize this gap and maximize your monthly benefit. If you claim before your full retirement age, your monthly benefit could be reduced by as much as 30 percent.Learn more about saving for retirement.

You have an opportunity to continue growing your money.

If you can, get the highest monthly Social Security benefit possible by claiming at your full Social Security benefit age or later. If you claim before your full retirement age, your monthly benefit could be permanently reduced by as much as 30 percent. Also, take advantage of catch-up contributions to your 401 or Individual Retirement Account . Lastly, avoid losing your retirement savings to unnecessary tax penalties. If you withdraw your 401 or IRA savings before age 59½, you will likely face an early withdrawal penalty.Learn more about how retirement savings grow.

It’s a perfect time to start saving.

It’s never too late to start saving!

There are many ways to plan for a secure retirement outside of Social Security.

It’s never too late to start saving!

A type of retirement savings account offered by employers to help their employees save for retirement.

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How Are Your Social Security Benefits Calculated

Social Security uses your highest 35 years of earnings, indexed to a national average wage index, to calculate your primary insurance amount If you have fewer than 35 years of earnings, each year with no earnings will be entered as zero. You can increase your Social Security benefit at any time by replacing a zero or low-income year with a higher-income year.

There is a maximum Social Security benefit amount you can receive, though it depends on the age you retire. For someone at full retirement age in 2022, the maximum monthly benefit is $3,345. For someone filing at age 70, the maximum monthly amount is $4,194. And for someone retiring early, at age 62, the maximum monthly benefit is $2,364.

To estimate your benefits, use the Social Securitys online Retirement Estimator.

Social Security Income Limits

The Social Security Administration reported in October 2021 that the estimated average monthly retirement benefit will be $1,657. While that regular monthly income helps, it’s usually not enough to cover living expenses. That’s one reason many people are working longer.

If you work, the money you bring home can affect your Social Security benefitsbut the specifics depend on your age and how much you earn. Remember that, although your full retirement age might be 67, you can start receiving benefits at 62, even if you’re still working.

But here’s the catch: For the 2021 tax year, if you start benefits before full retirement age, you can only earn up to $18,960 and still get your full benefits. Once you earn more than the limit, Social Security deducts $1 from your benefits for every $2 you earn.

In the year you reach full retirement age, Social Security becomes more forgiving. If you earn more than $50,520 it deducts $1 for every $3 you earnbut only during the months before you reach full retirement age. Once you reach full retirement age, you can earn any amount of money, and it won’t reduce your monthly benefits.

Note, however, that any money deducted from your benefit is not permanently lost. After you reach full retirement age, Social Security will recalculate your benefit and increase it to account for the benefits that it withheld earlier.

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Early Benefits Can Still Pay Off

However, taking early benefits can still pay off despite the reduced monthly check. But youll want to be sure you budget for a reduced benefit.

No one can predict how long youll live, but if youre facing a potentially significant reduction in life expectancy and are short of income, taking Social Security early may be appropriate, Neiser says.

Married women are also good candidates for claiming early benefits because they are likely to outlive their husbands. Those widows then become eligible to receive the greater of either their benefit or their late husbands benefit.

However, this scenario works only if the husband does not claim his benefits early. By not claiming early benefits, the husband effectively increases the monthly benefit his wife eventually receives. So, youll want to calculate how filing early will affect your spousal benefit here.

Spouses And Social Security

Social Security: Full Retirement Age Explained

You can claim Social Security benefits based on your spouse’s work record. If claiming spousal benefits provides more, claiming before your FRA on a spouse’s record means you’ll lose even more than claiming on your own recordthe benefit reduction for a spouse is 35% while the reduction for claiming your own benefit is 30%. For instance, if you’re the spouse of Colleen in the above example and you are the same age, you’d be eligible for only $650 a month at age 6235% less than the $1000 a month you would get at your FRA of 67.

Not married? Read Viewpoints on Fidelity.com: Social Security tips for singles

Your decision to take benefits early could outlive you. If you were to die before your spouse, they would be eligible to receive your monthly amount as a survivor benefitif it’s higher than their own amount. But if you take your benefits early, say at age 62 versus waiting until age 70, your spouse’s survivor Social Security benefit could be 30% less for the remainder of their lifetime.

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Can I Qualify For Ssi While Collecting Social Security Retirement Benefits

While you cannot collect Social Security retirement and SSDI at the same time to increase your benefits beyond the full retirement amount, there is a program that may allow you to collect additional income.

SSI, which stands for Supplemental Security Income, is a Social Security program that helps seniors and those with a disability who have an extremely low income or limited assets. To qualify for SSI, you need to meet strict income qualifications and have only a minimum amount of resources. Resources, as the SSA defines the term, can be anything that can be turned into cash, such as:

  • Bank accounts, stocks, or U.S. savings bonds

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