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What Is the Full Retirement Age for Social Security? | Retirement

Key Takeaways:

  • The full retirement age to receive full Social Security benefits will vary by birth year, ranging from 65 to 67.
  • Claiming Social Security before your full retirement age reduces your monthly benefit, but delaying benefits until age 70 increases them.
  • Working while receiving Social Security benefits may lower your benefit amount depending on your earnings and whether you’ve reached your full retirement age.

For many people, age 65 is synonymous with retirement. After all, that is when most people first become eligible for Medicare, the government’s health insurance program for older Americans.

What some people don’t realize is that 65 is no longer the full retirement age for Social Security. In fact, nearly half of near-retirees don’t know the current full retirement age, according to a 2024 survey conducted by insurer MassMutual.

You can start collecting Social Security payments at age 62, but you won’t receive the full benefit you have earned unless you wait until your full retirement age to sign up for Social Security. Plus, you might see smaller monthly payments if you claim benefits early and keep working.

What Is the Full Retirement Age?

The Social Security full retirement age varies based on your birth year. Here’s how to determine your full retirement age and what this means for your Social Security benefits in retirement.

The Social Security full retirement age is:

birth year Full retirement age
1937 and earlier 65
1943 -1954 66
1960 and later 67

For other years, the full retirement age isn’t a full year but rather a year plus some months.

Age 65

The full retirement age used to be 65 for everyone, but the law was later changed, so that age only applied to those born in 1937 and earlier. After that, the full retirement age increased in two-month increments from 65 plus two months for someone born in 1938 to 65 plus 10 months for those born in 1942.

Birth year Full retirement age
1938 65 and two months
1939 65 and four months
1940 65 and six months
1941 65 and eight months
1942 65 and 10 months

Age 66

The Social Security full retirement age is 66 for most baby boomers born between 1943 and 1954. However, for people born in the five years after that, the full retirement age again increases in two-month increments each year.

Birth year Full retirement age
1955 66 and two months.
1956 66 and four months
1957 66 and six months
1958 66 and eight months
1959 66 and 10 months

Age 67

The full retirement age for Social Security is 67 for everyone born in 1960 or later. You can get a my Social Security account to learn more about your age and benefits.

In addition, you can check to see an estimate of what you’ll receive in benefits. “The amount of Social Security you receive is directly impacted by the number of years you work, the amount you pay into the system and when you start claiming your benefit,” said Matt Calme, a certified financial planner and wealth advisor at HCM Wealth Advisors in Cincinnati, in an email.

Taking Benefits at Different Times

After finding your full retirement age, you can calculate the impact of taking Social Security benefits earlier or later. “The first exercise most people go through is to understand what their benefit amounts are at different ages,” said Raymond J. Lucas, Jr., senior vice president of financial planning at Integrated Financial Partners in Worcester, Massachusetts, in an email.

If you take Social Security early, your benefit will be temporarily lower. For instance, if your full retirement age is 66 and you claim benefits at age 62, your monthly benefit will be reduced by more than a quarter.

Another option is to delay Social Security checks. “Once you reach full retirement age, you can decide to wait to claim your benefit up to age 70,” said Chuck Czajka, certified financial fiduciary at Macro Money Concepts in Stuart, Florida, in an email.

Each year you wait, your payment will increase by 8% annually until you turn 70. “Keep in mind that this could also be a survivor benefit once you pass,” Czajka said.

Working and Social Security

If you begin taking benefits before your full retirement age and decide to continue working, it could change your Social Security income.

For individuals who earn less than $22,320 in 2024 and receive early Social Security benefits, there will be no reductions to the benefit amount. If you earn more, $1 of benefits will be taken out for every $2 over the threshold. That means if you earn $25,000 in 2024 and have claimed Social Security early, your benefit will be reduced by $1,340.

If you will reach your full retirement age in 2024, you can earn up to $59,520 before your benefits are affected. After that, Social Security will reduce your benefits by $1 for every $3 you earn over that amount. However, this restriction is only in place until you reach your full retirement age, and then you are free to earn as much as you’d like in and after your birthday month.

During the years following your full retirement age, you won’t have benefit deductions based on the amount you earn. If your paychecks were lowered for a period due to your work income, your benefit amount will be recalculated when you reach full retirement age. You’ll get credit for the months the benefit was reduced.

Aligning your work, retirement and income plans is not a small task. “You should never make a Social Security decision just by looking at Social Security in a vacuum,” Lucas said. “It must be looked at in the context of an entire financial plan. Your age, your health, your assets, your other income sources and your family longevity all factor into deciding when to initiate your Social Security payments.”

Sarah Goldberg
Sarah Goldberg

Sarah is a seasoned financial market expert with a decade of experience. She's known for her analytical skills, attention to detail, and ability to communicate complex financial concepts. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Finance, is a licensed financial advisor, and enjoys reading and traveling in her free time.

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