What Is the Average Retirement Age in the U.S.?
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The average retirement age in the United States is 61, according to a 2022 Gallup survey. In 1991, the average retirement age in the U.S. was 57; in 2002, it was 59. According to the poll, people still working in 2022 expect to retire at 66 on average.
When deciding on retirement, people consider various factors, such as how old they must be to enroll in Medicare, claim Social Security benefits, or take penalty-free distributions from their retirement accounts. Many consider several other factors, too, including anticipated lifestyle and expenses, health, qualification requirements for certain retirement benefits and how old they'll be when they feel they have enough resources to retire.
Since 2012, the average retirement age in the U.S. has stayed relatively consistent, according to Gallup.
Average Retirement Age in the U.S.
What percentage of people retire at 65?
Americans are waiting longer to retire than they were two decades ago. For example, between 2002-2007, 41% of U.S. adults 60-64 and 76% of U.S. adults 65-69 were retired. However, between 2016-2022, 32% of U.S. adults 60-64 and 70% of U.S. adults 65-69 were retired, according to Gallup.
In a 2021 survey from the Pew Research Center, 24% of nonretired U.S. adults age 50 or older reported having either delayed their retirement or considering it because of the pandemic.
Financial losses from the Great Recession and the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as increases in the full retirement age for Social Security benefits, are factors that contribute to delayed retirement.
» Learn more: How to save for retirement
How old do you have to be to retire?
For many Americans, a significant factor in deciding to retire is when they can claim certain retirement benefits. A series of windows open around 60, but it might pay to wait longer than that to retire.
Most people can begin taking Social Security retirement benefits at 62. However, claiming Social Security at 62 means receiving significantly reduced benefits.
Full retirement age, which is the age at which you’re entitled to 100% of your Social Security retirement benefit, varies by birth year. So waiting until after your full retirement age to claim Social Security retirement benefits could net you an even bigger check.
Full retirement age for Social Security
Year you were born
Full retirement age
If you start receiving benefits at 62, your retirement benefit is reduced by...
1943 through 1954
66 and 2 months.
66 and 4 months.
66 and 6 months.
66 and 8 months.
66 and 10 months.
1960 and later
Another vital retirement benefit for many Americans is Medicare, a federal government health insurance program for people 65 and older and younger people with certain illnesses or disabilities. You can enroll in Medicare three months before you turn 65 (earlier if you have a qualifying disability or disease).
Distributions from retirement accounts
You can withdraw from 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts, penalty-free starting at age 59½. There are exceptions for certain qualifying disabilities, educational expenses and first-time homebuyers; otherwise, early withdrawals can mean paying a 10% tax.
Alternatively, you can withdraw your money into a Roth IRA tax-free at any time. For instance, if you contributed $50,000 to a Roth IRA that has grown to $300,000, you could withdraw your original $50,000 without incurring any tax liability.
If you have a pension, check with your pension administrator to see when you can start to receive your retirement benefits.
Factors to consider before retiring
Deciding to retire is usually a very personal decision, and before you retire, you should consider the following factors:
Anticipated lifestyle and expenses. How much do you expect you’ll need to sustain your anticipated lifestyle in retirement? For instance, someone who plans to travel a few months out of the year in retirement may have very different expenses than someone who intends to stay in a town with a low cost of living.
Do you qualify for retirement benefits? If you expect to depend on Social Security and Medicare for most of your retirement benefits, ensure you are eligible for those programs first.
How will you spend your time? This is especially important if you plan to pursue expensive hobbies (such as travel or collecting cars) because you may need extra income.
Do you have the resources to retire? Our free retirement calculator can help you figure out how much you’ll need to save to have the retirement you want.