What Is the Full Retirement Age for Social Security?

The age at which you retire can have a big impact on your finances. Here's what you need to know.
Whitney Vandiver
Taryn Phaneuf
Elizabeth Ayoola
By Elizabeth Ayoola,  Taryn Phaneuf and  Whitney Vandiver 
Updated
Edited by Tina Orem

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Nerdy takeaways
  • Your full retirement age depends on the year you were born.

  • You can start collecting Social Security at 62 but will receive reduced benefits.

  • If you wait until 70, your monthly check will be more than if you’d retired at your full retirement age.

Nerdy takeaways
  • Your full retirement age depends on the year you were born.

  • You can start collecting Social Security at 62 but will receive reduced benefits.

  • If you wait until 70, your monthly check will be more than if you’d retired at your full retirement age.

Age may be just a number, but it’s an important one for Social Security retirement benefits. After paying into the federal program throughout your working life, you can start collecting benefits in your 60s. How much you receive monthly depends in part on how old you are when you apply for benefits.

What is full retirement age for Social Security?

Full retirement age for Social Security is the age at which a person is entitled to 100% of their monthly Social Security retirement benefit. It ranges from 66 to 67

. The Social Security Administration determines a person’s full retirement age based on their birth year.

The advantage of waiting until you reach your full retirement age to claim Social Security is that you can collect your entire Social Security retirement benefit. You can start collecting benefits earlier (as early as age 62), but the Social Security Administration permanently reduces your monthly benefit if you do that.

How to find your full retirement age

If you were born in 1960 or later, your full retirement age is 67. However, if you were born before 1960, your full retirement age will be earlier. Use the table below to find out when you can get 100% of your Social Security retirement benefit.

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.

25%.

1955

66 and 2 months.

25.83%.

1956

66 and 4 months.

26.67%.

1957

66 and 6 months.

27.5%.

1958

66 and 8 months.

28.33%.

1959

66 and 10 months.

29.17%.

1960 and later

67.

30%.

Source: Social Security Administration

Did you know...

In 1983 the SSA began a steady increase of the full retirement age to account for people living longer. It rose from 65 to 67.

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Why your full retirement age matters

Regardless of the year you were born, the earliest you can begin claiming Social Security benefits is age 62. However, the SSA permanently reduces monthly benefits for people who claim benefits that early — the move could cost you 25% to 30% of your full retirement age benefit.

Your benefit reduction is determined by how much time you have left before reaching your full retirement age. In other words, the earlier you retire, the lower your monthly check is.

For someone with a full retirement age of 67, for example, the Social Security Administration cuts their monthly benefit by 30% if they claim benefits at age 62

.

  • If that person is eligible for $1,000 per month at full retirement age, their monthly benefit would shrink to $700 if they retire at 62.

  • However, if that person waits two more years to claim benefits at 64, their benefits would shrink by 20% instead of 30%, giving them an extra $100 a month.

Waiting until after full retirement age to claim benefits

The SSA increases benefits for people who delay retirement beyond full retirement age. Your Social Security benefits increase 8% for every year after full retirement age that you delay claiming them. If you wait until age 70 to claim benefits, for example, you receive 124% of your full retirement benefit amount.

For someone entitled to $1,000 per month at full retirement age, waiting until age 70 would mean getting $1,240 a month instead of $1,000.

The Social Security Administration does not apply the 8% benefits increase after age 70, meaning there is no incentive to wait longer than that to start receiving Social Security retirement benefits

Social Security Administration. Delayed Retirement Credits. Accessed Mar 29, 2023.
.

Estimate your Social Security retirement benefits

Your actual benefit may be lower or higher than estimate made with this calculator, because it does not take into account your actual earnings history.

We assume you have earnings every year until you begin receiving Social Security benefits. If you had several years of noncovered employment or your earnings changed significantly from year to year, this calculator will overestimate or underestimate your benefit.

Desired age to begin Social Security

You will qualify for benefits at age 62.

How to determine when to start Social Security benefits

When you can retire depends on several personal factors, such as how much you have in savings and what your other sources of income will be. A few things to consider as you figure out the right time to start Social Security benefits include

:

  • How long you’re likely to live.

  • If you’ll continue to work during retirement.

  • If you’re eligible for Social Security spousal or survivor benefits.

  • If you’ll invest the money or use it for living expenses.

» Find the answer: When can I retire?

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Average retirement age

The average retirement age in the United States is 61, according to a 2022 Gallup survey

; the same poll found that people who were still working plan to retire at 66 on average.

Though the average retirement age roughly coincides with the earliest age you're eligible to draw Social Security, when you retire doesn't necessarily have to revolve around Social Security or retirement account rules. Often it will depend on how much you have saved.

According to the Insured Retirement Institute's 2021 Retirement Readiness Among Older Workers research series, about a quarter of respondents have no retirement savings. Half have less than $250,000 saved for retirement and half of those respondents have saved less than $50,000

Insured Retirement Institute. Retirement Readiness Among Older Workers 2021. Accessed Mar 29, 2023.
.

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Other retirement ages to know

Benefit

Age

Event

401(k) and IRA catch-up contributions

59 1/2.

May qualify to contribute more money than the annual limit to eligible plans.

Roth IRA

59 1/2.

Nonqualified distributions of earnings allowed without taxes or early withdrawal penalty.

Traditional IRA, 401(k), 403(b), SEP IRA and SIMPLE IRA

59 1/2.

Nonqualified distributions of earnings allowed without an early withdrawal penalty.

Medicare

7 months surrounding your 65th birthday.

Enroll for Medicare Part B to avoid a late penalty of a 10% monthly premium increase for every 12-month period of delayed enrollment; there are exceptions that allow a delayed enrollment.

Think it through and get a second opinion

Deciding when to make the call on Social Security benefits isn't a decision to make lightly. Once you start taking benefits, the amount you receive generally sets the base for how much you'll get for the rest of your life. Also, annual cost of living adjustments will be based on that amount.

  • Social Security represents a major income artery for retirees — roughly one-third of the money they have to live on, according to the SSA.

  • You get one do-over in your lifetime: If you start receiving Social Security benefits and decide you can hold out longer to get a higher payout, you have a 12-month window to reverse course and repay the money you've received

    Social Security Administration. Frequently Asked Questions. Accessed Mar 29, 2023.

  • A financial advisor can help you run through scenarios taking into account the income streams available to you, ongoing investment returns, taxes and other parts of retirement planning.

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