No matter what your full retirement age (also called "normal retirement age") is, you may start receiving benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70.
If you retire early
You can retire at any time between age 62 and full retirement age. However, if you start benefits early, your benefits are reduced a fraction of a percent for each month before your full retirement age.
The chart below lists age 62 reduction amounts and includes examples based on an estimated monthly benefit of $1000 at full retirement age.
|Year of birth||Full retirement age||Months between age 62 and full retirement age||A $1000 retirement benefit would be reduced to||At age 62, the retirement benefit is reduced by||At age 62, a $500 spouse's benefit would be reduced to||At age 62, the spouse's benefit is reduced by|
|1937 or earlier||65||36||$800||20.00%||$375||25.00%|
|1938||65 and two months||38||$791||20.83%||$370||25.83%|
|1939||65 and four months||40||$783||21.67%||$366||26.67%|
|1940||65 and six months||42||$775||22.50%||$362||27.50%|
|1941||65 and eight months||44||$766||23.33%||$358||28.33%|
|1942||65 and ten months||46||$758||24.17%||$354||29.17%|
|1955||66 and two months||50||$741||25.83%||$345||30.83%|
|1956||66 and four months||52||$733||26.67%||$341||31.67%|
|1957||66 and six months||54||$725||27.50%||$337||32.50%|
|1958||66 and eight months||56||$716||28.33%||$333||33.33%|
|1959||66 and ten months||58||$708||29.17%||$329||34.17%|
|1960 and later||67||60||$700||30.00%||$325||35.00|
If you were born on January 1st, you should refer to the previous year.
If you were born on the 1st of the month, the SSA figures the benefit as if your birthday was in the previous month. You must be at least 62 for the entire month to receive benefits.
Percentages are approximate due to rounding.
The maximum benefit for the spouse is 50% of the benefit the worker would receive at full retirement age. The % reduction for the spouse should be applied after the automatic 50% reduction.
Pros and Cons
As a general rule, early or late retirement will give you about the same total Social Security benefits over your lifetime. If you retire early, the monthly benefit amounts will be smaller to take into account the longer period you will receive them. If you retire late, you will get benefits for a shorter period of time but the monthly amounts will be larger to make up for the months when you did not receive anything.
There are advantages and disadvantages to taking your benefit before your full retirement age. The advantage is that you collect benefits for a longer period of time. The disadvantage is your benefit is reduced. Each person's situation is different, so
- remember that, if you delay your benefits until after full retirement age, you may be eligible for delayed retirement credits that would increase your monthly benefit;
- keep in mind that there are other things to consider when making the correct decision about your retirement benefits and
- contact Social Security before you decide when to retire.
Note: If you decide to delay your benefits until after age 65, you should still apply for Medicare benefits within three months of your 65th birthday. If you wait longer, your Medicare medical insurance (Part B) and prescription drug coverage (Part D) may cost you more money.