You can start collecting Social Security prior to or after reaching your full retirement age. The minimum age to start collecting is 62.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) currently considers age 66 or 67 to be the “normal” or “full” retirement age. The maximum age is 70. If you have no other source of income or require additional income, then starting to collect earlier may be an option for you. However, waiting to collect at your full retirement age or later will increase your periodic collections for the rest of your retirement.
There are several strategies addressed later in this guide for individuals and couples to postpone collecting in order to maximize their benefits.
What is my full retirement age?
The 1983 Social Security Amendments included a provision for increasing the full retirement age to 67 for people born after 1959.6 The improvements in the health of older people — including better health care and a greater life expectancy — are responsible for the change. Please see the chart below for a simple breakdown.
Better health care and greater life expectancy are responsible for the change in the retirement age.
What is delayed retirement?
If you wait until you turn 70, which is the latest age at which you can claim benefits, then your benefits can be as much as 32% larger than they would have been had you taken them at age 66.
Applying for retirement
You must be at least 61 years and 9 months old to apply for Social Security benefits.
You should apply three to four months before you want to start collecting. When you are ready to apply, refer to the online retirement application at https://www.ssa.gov/retire/.
BEFORE APPLYING, YOU SHOULD CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING:
- - Your full retirement age.
- - Benefit reductions.
- - Working in retirement.
- - Delayed retirement credits.
- - Life expectancy.
TAKE THE INITIAL STEPS TOWARDS RETIREMENT:
- - Go to https://www.ssa.gov/retire/ and create an account to view your earnings and Social Security income projections.
- - Remember to verify your earnings, in case there may be errors or omissions.
- - As you approach retirement, determine when you should retire and when you should start collecting.
- - Work with a financial advisor to develop your retirement income plan, integrating your Social Security benefits.
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4 “Annual Statistical Supplement to the Social Security Bulletin, 2016,” Social Security Administration.
5 “The Impact of Claiming Age on Monthly Social Security Retirement Benefits: How Knowledgeable Are Future Beneficiaries?” © 2012 AARP Convergent Retirement Plan Solutions, LLC © 2015.
6 “The Full Retirement Age Is Increasing,” Social Security Administration.
7 Social Security Administration.