Retirement Planning

Social Security Benefits by Year of Birth

If you want to retire early, be sure to consider things such as your health, finances, family financial needs and the fact that retirement could be a lot longer than you think. Plus, you'll need to understand what the SSA considers full retirement age. 

When To Retire

Thinking about retiring sooner rather than later may find you thumbing through vacation brochures, but have you considered how an early retirement can affect your Social Security benefits?

You can apply for your Social Security benefits beginning at age 62. Just how much you'll receive is based on the age at which your benefits are claimed. Keep in mind that there are advantages as well as disadvantages when it comes to taking your Social Security benefit before your full retirement age.

For example, you can walk away from a lifetime of hard work at age 62, with immediate benefit payments scheduled for the rest of your life. However, the disadvantage is that your payments will be substantially reduced by taking them early. Now, if you wait until you reach your full or “normal” retirement age you'll get a bigger payout, but of course, you'll have to wait longer for it.

Making the right decision

There is no way to recommend the best age in which to retire, because everyone has different life situations and financial needs. However, there are some considerations. For example, with most of us are living longer and healthier lives, retirement might last longer than you think. In fact, about one in four 65-year-olds today will live to age 90, and more than one in seven will live to age 95.1 So while Social Security benefits are meant to last as long as you live, you need to select a retirement age that's based on your individual circumstances, ensuring that you have sufficient income at a time when you need it the most.

Another consideration when it comes to taking reduced benefits at age 62, is the effect it may have on your family. For example, if you die before your spouse, he or she may be able to receive survivor benefits. Taking your benefits early can mean that he or she won't receive full benefits to live on after you're gone.

These are just two common examples of why it's important to carefully consider when to apply for your Social Security benefits. Others can include your overall health and personal finances.

Want to see how your benefits can change based on the age you begin taking them? The following Social Security Administration chart shows the reduction amounts according to age, and includes examples based on an estimated monthly benefit of $1000 at full retirement.

Full Retirement and Age 62 Benefit By Year Of Birth
      At Age 623
Year of Birth1 Full (normal) Retirement Age Months between age 62 and full retirement age2 A $1000 retirement benefit would be reduced to The retirement benefit is reduced by4 A $500 spouse's benefit would be reduced to The spouse's benefit is reduced by5
1937 or earlier 65 36 $800 20.00% $375 25.00%
1938 65 and 2 months 38 $791 20.83% $370 25.83%
1939 65 and 4 months 40 $783 21.67% $366 26.67%
1940 65 and 6 months 42 $775 22.50% $362 27.50%
1941 65 and 8 months 44 $766 23.33% $358 28.33%
1942 65 and 10 months 46 $758 24.17% $354 29.17%
1943-1954 66 48 $750 25.00% $350 30.00%
1955 66 and 2 months 50 $741 25.83% $345 30.83%
1956 66 and 4 months 52 $733 26.67% $341 31.67%
1957 66 and 6 months 54 $725 27.50% $337 32.50%
1958 66 and 8 months 56 $716 28.33% $333 33.33%
1959 66 and 10 months 58 $708 29.17% $329 34.17%
1960 and later 67 60 $700 30.00% $325 35.00%

1. If you were born on January 1st, you should refer to the previous year.
2. If you were born on the 1st of the month, we figure your benefit (and your full retirement age) as if your birthday was in the previous month. If you were born on January 1st, we figure your benefit (and your full retirement age) as if your birthday was in December of the previous year.
3. You must be at least 62 for the entire month to receive benefits.
4. Percentages are approximate due to rounding.
5. The maximum benefit for the spouse is 50% of the benefit the worker would receive at full retirement age. The % reduction for the spouse should be applied after the automatic 50% reduction. Percentages are approximate due to rounding.


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