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Retirement age is the age at which a person stops working or becomes eligible for certain benefits, such as Social Security. The full retirement age for Social Security is 67 if you were born after 1960. However, the average retirement age for Americans varies widely.
Here’s a look at some of the different ways to define retirement age and how those definitions can affect your finances.
What is the Social Security retirement age?
You can start claiming Social Security any time after age 62. However, you have to reach a certain age to receive full benefits from Social Security. That age is your “full retirement age” or “normal retirement age.” If you start taking benefits before you reach Social Security's so-called normal retirement age, your monthly check may be lower.
How much you receive from Social Security every month depends in part on much you’ve earned, your age and when you start claiming benefits.
If you delay claiming benefits until after your full retirement age, your benefits will increase up until age 70. For those born in 1943 or later, your benefits will increase 8% each year you wait. However, there is no incentive to claim after age 70.
Find your Social Security retirement age
Here is the normal retirement age (NRA) by year of birth. Normal retirement age ranges from 65 to 67.
Year of birth
Full (normal) retirement age
1937 or earlier
65 and 2 months
65 and 4 months
65 and 6 months
65 and 8 months
65 and 10 months
66 and 2 months
66 and 4 months
66 and 6 months
66 and 8 months
66 and 10 months
1960 or later
Source: Social Security Administration
What is the average retirement age?
The most common age to retire is 62, according to the Federal Reserve.
When you retire doesn’t necessarily have to revolve around the requirements of the Social Security Administration or retirement account rules. What's appropriate depends on who you ask.
According to a 2019 survey by the Insured Retirement Institute, 24% of baby boomers plan to retire before they turn 65, 29% plan to retire between age 65 and 69 and 26% plan to retire at age 70 or older. Another 8% said they plan to never retire.
A 2018 Gallup poll of nonretired Americans found that people, on average, plan to retire at age 66.
People age 18-29 expect to retire at age 63, on average.
People age 30-49 plan to retire at age 65, on average.
People age 50-64 plan to retire at age 67, on average.
Since 2009, Americans have said they expect to retire when they’re 65 to 67 years old, according to Gallup. Only 12% of Americans said they want to retire before age 60.
Retirement age for IRAs
If you have an individual retirement account (IRA), retirement age is basically anything after age 59 ½. That’s when you can make withdrawals from your IRA without facing a 10% penalty and a tax bill.
IRAs also come with another key retirement age: 70½. That’s when you have to take what are called “required minimum distributions.” (As part of the government’s ongoing coronavirus response, those aged 70½ and older in 2020 can forgo the distribution and let their IRA investments grow for another year. More details on that here.)
You can go to a bank or a broker to open an IRA, but for a long-term goal like retirement — where you have the time to ride out market fluctuations — it may make more sense to invest for growth and go with a broker.
Retirement age for target-date funds
If you invest in target-date funds, retirement age can be anything you want. That’s because target-date funds age with you by automatically rebalancing your portfolio from growth investments toward more conservative ones as retirement nears.
Your retirement year is the “target date” of most of these funds, and the funds are conveniently named to correspond with your planned retirement year. If retirement comes in 2049, for example, you can choose a target-date fund provider with a fund named with the year nearest that retirement date (perhaps a “Target 2050” fund).