Here's the exact day and month you can retire with full Social Security benefits

  • The Social Security retirement age is between 66 and 67, depending on your birth year.
  • Your “full retirement age” is when you can begin claiming 100% of your Social Security benefit.
  • You can claim Social Security as early as age 62 but your benefit will be reduced by up to 30%.
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The Social Security retirement age is between 66 and 67 for nearly all of today’s working Americans.

Otherwise known as full retirement age, it’s the age a person who has worked at least 10 years can begin claiming 100% of their Social Security benefit.

The current average benefit for Social Security recipients is $1,544 a month, according to the Social Security Administration, and it’s adjusted each year for increases in cost of living.

Americans born in 1960 or later — age 61 or younger in 2021 — can retire with full Social Security benefits at age 67. For Americans born before 1960, the full retirement age is between 66 and 67 years, as follows:

  • Born between 1943 and 1954: age 66
  • Born in 1955: age 66 and two months
  • Born in 1956: age 66 and four months
  • Born in 1957: age 66 and six months
  • Born in 1958: age 66 and eight months
  • Born in 1959: age 66 and 10 months.

Anyone who qualifies for a Social Security benefit can opt to claim it as early as age 62, regardless of whether they’ve left work or not. However, claiming that early reduces the payout to 75% of the full benefit if born before 1960 and 70% of the full benefit if born in 1960 or later.

Age 70 is the latest it makes sense to claim Social Security benefits. With each 12-month period that benefits are delayed beyond a person’s full retirement age (up to age 70), their benefit increases by up to 8% for a maximum of either 24% for those born in 1960 or later or 32% for those born before 1960.

Waiting to claim Social Security can increase your payout

Let’s say John, who was born in 1955, is in good health and enjoys his job. John’s full retirement age is exactly 66 and two months, at which point he can claim 100% of his monthly Social Security benefit of $1,500. John decides to continue working for a few more years, until his 69th birthday, and delays his benefit.

By the time John claims his Social Security benefit at 69, his monthly payout will be $1,840, 122.7% of his full retirement-age benefit. By delaying, John increased his monthly Social Security income by about $340. Note that the rules are different for spouses — consult the Social Security website for details.

Anyone can create a free My Social Security account to find out what their pretax monthly Social Security benefit will be, based on current earnings, and see how that could change depending on the date they leave work. For those in good health or with a greater chance of longevity, it may be worth it to hold out.

Research from United Income found that elderly poverty could be cut in half if every retiree claimed Social Security at the “financially optimal time.” The report said retirees stood to lose a collective $2.1 trillion in wealth, or about $68,000 per household, because they chose to claim Social Security benefits at the wrong time, which, for many, is before their full retirement age.

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