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At age 63, workers born in or after 1960 receive 75% of the Social Security retirement benefit they are entitled to at age 67 (full retirement age). Social Security benefits vary with earnings and when a worker retires; in 2023 the maximum is $3,627 at full retirement age.
What’s my full retirement age and how does it affect my benefit at age 63?
Full retirement age is the age at which you’re entitled to 100% of your Social Security retirement benefit. For a long time, 65 was considered the “normal retirement age,” and many people still may assume they’ll receive full Social Security benefits at 65. However, for people born in or after 1960, full retirement age is 67.
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
Source: Social Security Administration
If you start claiming Social Security before you reach full retirement age, the Social Security Administration reduces your benefits. For example, people who claim benefits at age 62 (the first year you can claim Social Security retirement benefits) receive checks that are as much as 30% less than what they would receive if they wait until full retirement age.
It’s important to understand that no matter what year you were born, you will not reach full retirement age by 63. This means that if you begin claiming Social Security at age 63, your benefit will also be significantly lower than it would be if you wait. The actual dollar amount you’ll receive at any eligible age is based on your unique earning history.
The Social Security Administration has a very specific formula for how much your retirement benefits will decrease if you claim retirement benefits before your full retirement age:
For every month before full retirement age that you start claiming benefits (up to 36 months), your benefit amount drops by 5/9 of 1%.
Additionally, for each month before retirement age that you start claiming benefits that exceeds 36 months, your benefit drops by 5/12 of 1%.
For example: if your full retirement age is 67 and you begin claiming benefits at age 63 (48 months early), the Social Security Administration reduces your benefit by 36 times 5/9 of 1%, plus 12 times 5/12 of 1% for a total of a 25% benefit reduction.
» Want to bump up your Social Security benefit? Here are 8 things to try
A number of factors determine exactly how much Social Security you’ll receive:
Your income. The more you earn during your working years, the higher your benefits are. The Social Security Administration adjusts (or “indexes”) each year’s earnings for inflation and then calculates your average indexed monthly earnings for your 35 highest-earning years. It then applies a formula to this figure to determine your “primary insurance amount,” which is the amount you’ll receive if you claim benefits at full retirement age.
Your age at retirement. If you retire before you’ve reached full retirement age, you’ll receive a reduced benefit, and if you delay retirement beyond full retirement age, your benefit increases incrementally until age 70.
Cost-of-living adjustment. You become eligible for Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustments at age 62, and from then on, all cost-of-living increases apply to your benefit amount — even if you don’t actually begin receiving Social Security until 70.
If you’re eligible for a government pension. If you didn’t pay Social Security tax on your government earnings, a different formula that reduces your benefits may apply.
Does it pay to delay retirement?
If you wait until after full retirement age to claim Social Security, your benefit amount increases by a predetermined percentage every month, and it keeps increasing monthly until age 70.
For those born in 1943 or later, this increase is ⅔ of 1% per month (8.0% annually).
After age 70 there are no further increases to your benefit amount, no matter how long you wait.
If you do decide to delay retirement beyond 65, remember to still sign up for Medicare at 65.
You can apply for Social Security online, in person at your local Social Security office (you have to make an appointment) or by calling 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778). If you live outside the U.S. or one of its territories, contact your closest U.S. Social Security office, U.S. Embassy or consulate.