Money & Policy

Figure Out Early and Late Social Security Payment Benefits

Benefits can start before full retirement age

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%
1943-1954  66  48  $750  25.00%  $350  30.00%
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.

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