Social Security • July 31st, 2020

Average Retirement Age in the United States (2020)

Michael Schultheiss

Key Takeaways
  • 1. Average age of retirement varies from state to state.
  • 2. States with higher costs of living have higher or later average retirement ages; states with lower costs of living have lower, or earlier, average retirement ages.
  • 3. Whatever state you live in, full retirement age for Social Security and age of Medicare eligibility will be the same.

The average retirement age in the United States varies from state to state. As we will see, there is a general pattern whereby average age of retirement tends to correlate with cost of living as well as with patterns of employment and unemployment.

Whatever the average age of retirement in your state, it is important to understand that the federal Social Security rules for full retirement age (FRA) are exactly that – federal – and apply equally to all states. Waiting until you reach your FRA to retire, as opposed to taking an early retirement, will help you to make the most of your Social Security and other retirement benefits.

It is a good idea to plan your retirement based on a sound understanding of your personal finances, and that is where a Certified Financial Planner® can help you out. Regardless of what state you live in, talking to a Certified Financial Planner® will provide you with a source of professional guidance and advice for your retirement planning.

Retirement Age Varies by State

The average retirement age in the USA varies from state to state. There is, however, a clear and discernible pattern: retirement age is positively correlated with cost of living.

What this means is that in states with a higher cost of living, the average age of retirement is higher. New England, a region with high cost of living and high age of retirement, is a particularly good example.

In states with a lower cost of living, the retirement age is lower.

There is another, related pattern that also helps to explain the lower retirement ages in some states compared with others. In those states that have high unemployment, the age of retirement is actually lower, not higher, because some people cannot find work and must retire sooner than they had expected to.

This is the pattern in the Appalachian states, a region characterized by high unemployment and particularly early retirement.


Michael Schultheiss

Michael Schultheiss is a freelance copywriter of long-form content and other marketing communications (B2B and B2C) in the financial services and FinTech niches. In copywriting, he looks for hungry crowds. Other interests include health, fitness, and reading and writing fiction.