Social Security Benefit Basics: Know Your ‘Full Retirement Age’

Social Security Benefit Basics: Know Your ‘Full Retirement Age’
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Retirement planning can touch on all aspects of your financial landscape – everything from traditional investments to daily budgets, from how long you’ll work to where you’ll live.


But many planners skip a simple step: Fully understanding their Social Security benefits, including when to begin receiving benefits.


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Many of the Social Security basics can be found on the Social Security Administration’s website, which offers tools to estimate your benefit, review your records, and much more.


[FROM 2019: When Should You Start Taking Social Security Benefits?]


One good starting point for many planners is to understand what’s meant by “Full Retirement Age” under Social Security, a figure which varies by retiree and may not be the best age to collect your benefits. Here’s a quick breakdown, by age:

  • Age 60: The earliest a widow or widower can receive Social Security survivor benefits because of their age. These benefits are reduced from the full benefit by an amount based on how early they’re taken; learn more at this link, including how to reach out to a Social Security representative for assistance before making any benefits decisions.

  • Age 62: The earliest a beneficiary can elect to receive Social Security retirement pay. These benefits are reduced by a small percentage for each month taken before full retirement age. Find a chart at this link for details.

  • Age 65: The age many associate with retirement; it was the full retirement age for Social Security until changes to the program in 1983.


[RELATED: 65 and Beyond: Understanding Medicare and TRICARE For Life]

  • Age 66: Full retirement age for those born between 1943 and 1954. The age goes up by two months for five years after that, with those born in 1959 reaching full retirement at 66 years, 10 months.

  • Age 67: Full retirement age for those born in 1960 or later.

  • Age 70: Beneficiaries who choose to delay taking retirement pay receive a benefit increase connected to their birth year and how long the delay lasts, up to age 70. Get the full chart at this link.


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MOAA Can Help

Unsure how to factor those percentages, benefit delays, and other Social Security processes into your financial plans? While MOAA does not offer individualized planning, our online retirement resources include dozens of articles covering all manner of related topics. MOAA Premium and Life members can access even more materials, including exclusive financial publications, recorded webinars, and more.


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About the Author

Kevin Lilley
Kevin Lilley

Lilley serves as MOAA's digital content manager. His duties include producing, editing, and managing content for a variety of platforms, with a concentration on The MOAA Newsletter and Follow him on X: @KRLilley