Social Security

What is Full Retirement Age?

Full retirement age is the age at which a person may first become entitled to full or unreduced retirement benefits.

Adam Cecil
Published February 6th, 2020
Key Takeaways
  • Full retirement age is the age when you get 100% of your Social Security benefits.
  • SS benefits are reduced if you take them before your full retirement age, but are increased if you wait to take them after full retirement age.
  • Wait as long as possible before taking your SS benefits in order to get the largest monthly payment you can.

If you’re planning for retirement, you’ve probably come across the term “full retirement age.” Full retirement age refers to the age when you can collect 100% of your Social Security benefits. Full retirement age is determined by the year you were born. Check out this chart to see what your Social Security retirement age is:

Year of BirthFull Retirement Age
1943-195466
195566 and 2 months
195666 and 4 months
195766 and 6 months
195866 and 8 months
195966 and 10 months
1960 and later67

While you can elect to take SS retirement benefits anytime between the age 62 and your full retirement age, if you retire early your benefits are reduced by a fraction of a percent for each month before your full retirement age. For folks turning 62 this year, your benefits would be reduced by 28.33% if you retired on your birthday.

On the flipside, you can earn what’s called a “delayed retirement credit” for every month you wait after your full retirement age to take benefits up until age 70. For everyone born after 1943, this rate of increase is 8% per year. These credits stop accumulating after age 70, so there’s no point in waiting after that to retire.

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If you’re married, or were married to someone for at least ten years, you’re eligible to receive spousal benefits. Spouses are guaranteed to receive half of what the other person would get at their full retirement age, which can be a massive boost if your spouse out-earned you. You can receive spousal benefits as early as age 62, but the amount you can receive increases until you’re 67. There are no delayed retirement credits for spouses, so there’s no reason to wait until after age 67. Your spouse also needs to file for benefits before you can start receiving benefits.

We highly suggest waiting as long as possible to collect Social Security benefits. Social Security is a guaranteed source of inflation-proof income, and is a crucial income source for retirees. If you’re worried about not having enough savings for retirement, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve got the highest Social Security benefit possible.

But just because you haven’t taken Social Security benefits doesn’t mean you can’t stop working or slow down. If you have some savings, you could use it to help bridge the gap between when you stop working and when you officially retire. Or, if you own your home, you could use a HELOC or reverse mortgage to tap into your equity. You could also combine savings with a part-time job in order to make ends meet while you wait for full retirement age or beyond. Most people are still active and social in the first few years of retirement, a part-time job is a great way bridge the gap to a higher social security benefit and stay fulfilled during the transition.

For more information about Social Security benefits, how they’re calculated, and how they’re taxed, check out our quick guide to Social Security.

Figuring out what age you can retire is a complex process, but talking to a financial planner can make it a lot easier. They can help you get a jump on retirement planning by evaluating your financial assets, debts, and goals, and guide you towards a financially secure and happy retirement.

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Author
Adam Cecil

Writer, video maker, and podcast producer based in Brooklyn. Previously a staff writer at Policygenius, helping people find the insurance coverage they need. Find out more.

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