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How Old Do You Have to Be To Collect Social Security Retirement Benefits?
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05 February 2017   Social Security, Presented by J. Dyer

2017 Brings Changes to "Full Retirement Age"

Every worker’s dream is having a secure retirement to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Social Security is here to help you secure today and tomorrow. Part of that commitment is ensuring you have the most up-to-date information when you make your retirement decisions.

“Full retirement age” refers to the age when a person can claim their Social Security benefits without any reduction, even if they are still working part or full time.  In other words, you don’t actually need to retire from your work to claim your full benefits. Also note that waiting until you’re 70, if you can, will bring you a higher monthly benefit. The choices you make may affect benefits your spouse or children can receive on your record, too. 

As the bells rang in a new year, they also rang in changes in 2017 for people considering claiming Social Security retirement benefits. For people who attain age 62 in 2017 (i.e., those born between January 2, 1955 and January 1, 1956), full retirement age is 66 and two months. 

Full retirement age was age 65 for many years. However, due to a law passed by Congress in 1983, it has been gradually increasing, beginning with people born in 1938 or later, until it reaches 67 for people born after 1959.

You can learn more about the full retirement age and find out how to look up your own at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire/retirechart.html.

There are some things you should remember when you’re thinking about retirement.

You may start receiving Social Security benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the higher your monthly benefit will be. Your monthly benefits will be reduced permanently if you start them any time before full retirement age. For example, if you start receiving benefits in 2017 at age 62, your monthly benefit amount will be reduced permanently by about 26 percent. 

On the other hand, if you wait to start receiving your benefits until after your full retirement age, then your monthly benefits will be permanently increased. The amount of this increase is two-thirds of one percent for each month –– or eight percent for each year –– that you delay receiving them until you reach age 70. 

If you decide to receive benefits before you reach full retirement age, you should also understand how continuing to work can affect your benefits. We may withhold or reduce your benefits if your annual earnings exceed a certain amount. However, every month we withhold or reduce increases your future benefits. That’s because at your full retirement age we will recalculate your benefit amount to give you credit for the months in which we reduced or withheld benefits due to your excess earnings. In effect, it’s as if you hadn’t filed for those months. You can learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire/whileworking.html.

If you pass away, your retirement date can affect the benefit amount your surviving loved ones receive. If you started receiving retirement benefits before full retirement age, we cannot pay the full amount to your survivors. Their benefit amount will be based on your reduced benefits.

You can learn more by visiting our Retirement Planner at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire.