What Is the Normal Retirement Age?

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A 2014 Gallup poll found that the average retirement age is 62. This age is notably lower than the normal retirement age, which depends on a person’s birth year. For people born before 1960, the normal retirement age varies between 65 and 67. For those born after 1960, the normal retirement age is 67.

Social Security Factor

You’re eligible for social security benefits the minute you turn 62. However, if you wait and retire after 62, you'll get higher monthly benefits. Collecting before your normal retirement age might amount to a longer retirement and thus an opportunity to collect more money from Social Security. Conversely, waiting to retire until after your normal retirement age might mean a shorter retirement and a smaller total benefit collection.

Spousal Benefits

You’re entitled to up to 50 percent of your spouse’s social security benefit if she’s collecting it. You can collect the higher of the amount based on your own earnings or the spousal benefit. As with collecting on your own record, you must be at least 62 to claim spousal benefits. The amount you get depends on whether you’ve reached or passed your normal retirement age. If you claim the spousal benefits before reaching your normal retirement age, you’ll receive a reduced amount. The spousal amount isn’t reduced if you’re caring for your spouse’s dependent child.

Private Retirement Plans

The normal retirement age is also significant for private retirement plans. It’s often a specific age set by the plan or age 65. Private plans can’t set their normal retirement age above 65. You can begin collecting payments when you reach your 65th birthday or after you’ve participated in the plan for five years – whichever is later. You also can begin collecting at the plan’s normal retirement age. If you continue working beyond your normal retirement age, the plan might suspend your benefits. You might not get your money until a future date the plan chooses, or when you retire or leave the company for another job.

Future Concerns

If all things remain the same, the Old Age and Survivor's Insurance trust fund that pays Social Security recipients is expected to run out of money by 2034. Experts at the Heritage Foundation believe that a gradual increase in the normal retirement age and an increase in the early retirement eligibility age will significantly reduce the program’s deficit.


Photo Credits

  • David Woolley/Photodisc/Getty Images