Social Security FAQ

When can I start collecting Social Security retirement benefits?

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Answer:

When can I start collecting Social Security retirement benefits?

The Social Security Administration used to consider 65 to be full retirement age for the retirement benefit. Benefits amounts were calculated on the assumption that most workers will stop working full time and will claim retirement benefits when they reach age 65. 

Now that people are generally living longer, Social Security's rules about what is considered full retirement age have changed. Age 65 is still considered full retirement age for anyone born before 1938. But full retirement age gradually increases from age 65 to 67 for people born in 1938 or later. For anyone born after 1960, the full retirement age is 67.

Retirement Age for Those Born After 1937
 Year Born Full Retirement Age
 1938 65 years, 2 months
 1939 65 years, 4 months
 1940 65 years, 6 months
 1941 65 years, 8 months
 1942 65 years, 10 months
 1943 - 1954 66 years
 1955 66 years, 2 months
 1957 66 years, 6 months
 1958 66 years, 8 months
 1959 66 years, 10 months
 1960 or later 67 years

The system does provide for early retirement at age 62, but also offers higher benefits for people who wait to make their claims after reaching full retirement age. For more information, see Nolo's article Social Security Benefits: Retirement, Disability, Dependents, and Survivors.

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