According to the Social Security Administration, retirees that are eligible for Social Security benefits can start collecting these benefits between the ages of 62 and 67. The full retirement age, also known as normal retirement age, is the age at which a person will receive the full monthly amount from their Social Security benefits.
The full retirement age for people born in 1937 or before is 65. For those born between 1938 and 1959, the retirement age is between 65 and 67. The full retirement age for people born after 1965 is 67. Information to determine the full retirement age of a person born between 1938 and 1959 is available at the Social Security Administration website.
Open a web browser and navigate to the Social Security Administration retirement benefits by birth year website.
Locate the year of birth of the retiree in the table titled "Full Retirement and Age 62 Benefits by Year of Birth". For people born on January 1st, the Social Security Administration uses the previous year as the birth year for calculating full retirement age.
Click on the year of birth for the retiree to determine the percentage decrease of monthly Social Security benefits for requests made before full retirement age.
An advantage to collecting Social Security benefits before your full retirement age is that you will receive benefits for a longer period of time. However, since the total amount of benefits is the same, the longer the period for receiving them will result in a smaller monthly amount.
Retirees eligible for Social Security benefits that begin collecting benefits after their full retirement age will earn delayed retirement credits. This credit results in a percentage increase of benefits. For example, a person born in 1943 or after will receive an 8% annual increase in benefits for every year they delay collecting Social Security benefits.
While it is possible to begin collecting Social Security benefits as early as age 62, doing so will decrease the monthly payment amount. For example, the full retirement age for a person born in 1960 or after is 67. If the person receives benefits at age 62, their payment amount will be reduced by 30% because they will receive payments for an additional 60 months. If the same person waits until age 65 to begin receiving benefits, their payment amount will only be reduced by 13.3% because they are only receiving benefits for an additional 24 months.
This reduction in payment amount also affects spouses of retirees receiving Social Security benefits. A spouse that begins collecting benefits at full retirement age will receive 50% of the payment amount provided to the retiree. If the spouse begins receiving benefits before full retirement age, the amount will decrease by a percentage based on the additional number of months they will be receiving benefits. So consider these factors before making a decision about receiving retirement benefits.