Understanding Social Security Retirement Age

Social Security retirement age is an important factor to consider when planning for your retirement. It determines when you are eligible to start receiving Social Security retirement benefits, and can also impact the amount of your monthly benefit. 





In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what Social Security retirement age is, how it’s calculated, and what factors can affect it.

What is Social Security Retirement Age?

Social Security retirement age is the age at which you become eligible to start receiving Social Security retirement benefits. It’s also known as “full retirement age,” and varies depending on your year of birth. For example, if you were born in 1955, your full retirement age is 66 and 2 months.

How is Social Security Retirement Age Calculated?

Social Security retirement age is based on your year of birth, and is calculated using a formula that takes into account the average life expectancy of someone born in that year. 

Here’s how the formula works:

  • For people born before 1937, the full retirement age is 65.
  • For people born between 1938 and 1942, the full retirement age gradually increases from 65 to 65 and 10 months.
  • For people born between 1943 and 1954, the full retirement age is 66.
  • For people born between 1955 and 1959, the full retirement age gradually increases from 66 and 2 months to 66 and 10 months.
  • For people born in 1960 or later, the full retirement age is 67.

Can You Start Receiving Social Security Benefits Before Your Full Retirement Age?

Yes, you can start receiving Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62. However, if you start receiving benefits before your full retirement age, your monthly benefit amount will be permanently reduced. The reduction is based on the number of months you start receiving benefits before your full retirement age.

For example, if your full retirement age is 66 and you start receiving benefits at age 62, your monthly benefit amount will be reduced by 25%. If your full retirement age is 67 and you start receiving benefits at age 62, your monthly benefit amount will be reduced by 30%.

Can You Delay Receiving Social Security Benefits After Your Full Retirement Age?

Yes, you can delay receiving Social Security retirement benefits after your full retirement age. If you delay receiving benefits, your monthly benefit amount will be permanently increased. The increase is based on the number of months you delay receiving benefits after your full retirement age.

For example, if your full retirement age is 66 and you delay receiving benefits until age 70, your monthly benefit amount will be increased by 32%. If your full retirement age is 67 and you delay receiving benefits until age 70, your monthly benefit amount will be increased by 24%.

What Factors Can Affect Your Social Security Retirement Age?

There are a few factors that can affect your Social Security retirement age. These include:

Early Retirement

If you decide to start receiving Social Security retirement benefits before your full retirement age, your monthly benefit amount will be permanently reduced.

Delayed Retirement

If you decide to delay receiving Social Security retirement benefits after your full retirement age, your monthly benefit amount will be permanently increased.

Life Expectancy

If you have a longer life expectancy than the average person born in your year, it may make sense for you to delay receiving Social Security retirement benefits in order to maximize your monthly benefit amount.

Spousal Benefits

If you are married, you may be eligible to receive spousal benefits based on your spouse’s work record. These benefits can be received as early as age 62, but if you want to receive your full spousal benefit, you will need to wait until your full retirement age.

Survivor Benefits

If your spouse passes away, you may be eligible to receive survivor benefits based on their work record. The amount you receive will depend on your age at the time of your spouse’s death and your own work record. 

If you are eligible for both your own retirement benefits and survivor benefits, you can choose to receive one or the other, but not both.

Conclusion

Social Security retirement age is an important factor to consider when planning for your retirement. Understanding when you are eligible to start receiving benefits and how your monthly benefit amount is calculated can help you make informed decisions about when to retire and how to maximize your Social Security benefits. 

Keep in mind that there are a variety of factors that can affect your Social Security retirement age, so it’s important to consider your own personal circumstances when making decisions about your retirement.

Social Security Retirement Age Chart

Here is a chart outlining the full retirement age for Social Security benefits based on birth year:

Birth YearFull Retirement Age
1937 or earlier65
193865 and 2 months
193965 and 4 months
194065 and 6 months
194165 and 8 months
194265 and 10 months
1943-195466
195566 and 2 months
195666 and 4 months
195766 and 6 months
195866 and 8 months
195966 and 10 months
1960 or later67

It’s important to note that while you can start receiving Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62, your monthly benefit amount will be reduced for each month that you begin receiving benefits before your full retirement age.

 Conversely, if you delay receiving benefits beyond your full retirement age, your monthly benefit amount will be increased.