Retirement Planning

Retirement Age In the USA

You can begin receiving Social Security at the age of 62, but is this the best age to retire? Waiting a few more years may increase your retirement income significantly.  

How Your Social Security Benefits Can Change Depending On Age

When should you take Social Security? For most Americans, 62 is the magic age when it comes to retirement. This is mainly due to the fact that 62 is the age when you can begin to receive your Social Security benefits. However, 62 might not be the best age for you. Waiting to sign up for benefits can impact how much you'll receive, and for this reason, more and more people are postponing their benefits past the earliest eligible age of 62.

Everyone has their own reasons for delaying their Social Security benefits. However, there is definitely a financial benefit to waiting, especially if you, or your spouse, are in reasonably good health and can afford to wait as long as possible. But despite the financial benefits, three quarters of Americans are doing the opposite, and filing for Social Security within two months of reaching age 62.1

The fact is, there really isn't a universal retirement age in USA. Instead, people are looking at their individual situation and weighing the factors when deciding if forgoing higher monthly benefits is worth an earlier payout. So while you can retire at any time between age 62 and your full retirement age, drawing your benefits early means a reduction in your payments.

So just how much of your benefits are at stake?

Let's use the following as an example. Say you're age 62 and your full retirement age is 66 or 67 (depending on the year you were born). By taking your benefits now, at 62, you'll get a 25 percent reduction in your benefits as opposed to waiting until you reach your full retirement age. However, if you were born after 1959, and delay claiming benefits until age 67, then you would be able to claim your full, unreduced Social Security payments.

But wait, it could get even better. If you're age 62 and wait to claim your benefits at age 70, you can give yourself as much as a 32 percent increase in your benefits. However, according to a recent study, only four percent of women and two percent of men hold out until age 70.2

There are pros and cons when it comes to taking your benefits before your full retirement age and beyond. For this reason, it's important to consider factors such as your health and financial situation. On the pro side, collecting your benefits early means you'll be getting payments for a longer period of time. However, the con would be that your benefit will be reduced.

For more information on retirement plans and how to start saving for retirement, visit the Protective Learning Center.


1. John Shoven and Sita Slavov, “The Decision to Delay Social Security Benefits: Theory and Evidence,” National Bureau of Economic Research working paper 17866, February 2012
2. Center for Retirement Research at Boston College analysis of Social Security Administration data

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