If I Quit Working at 62 & Don't Take Social Security Will My Benefits Decrease?

If I Quit Working at 62 & Don't Take Social Security Will My Benefits Decrease?
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One segment of Social Security is a supplemental retirement system that requires contributions in the form of payroll taxes. Eligibility for collecting Social Security includes age, length of employment and contributions into the system. You must be at least 62 to receive retirement benefits, you must have worked at least 40 quarters over your total working life and you must have paid into Social Security through payroll deductions.

Benefits Calculation

Social Security benefits are calculated based on your lifetime earnings. After your earnings are adjusted to account for wage inflation, Social Security calculates your average adjusted monthly earnings over your highest 35 years. Social Security then uses this information to calculate the basic benefit to which you are entitled. If you worked fewer than 35 years, the formula puts 0 in for those years without earnings. So in general you will receive higher benefits if you work the full 35 years. People whose wages increase during their working life may receive higher benefits by working more than 35 years.

Full Retirement Age

For Social Security purposes, full retirement age depends on your date of birth. If you were born in 1937 or before, full retirement age is 65. If your birth year is between 1937 and 1943 your full retirement age increases incrementally. Between 1943 and 1954 full retirement is 66 with similar increases between 1955 and 1960. Those born in 1960 or later reach full retirement age at 67. Retirement age for those born on January 1 is based on the prior year.

Delaying Benefits Increases Payout

You can begin collecting reduced benefits as early as age 62. After age 62 your benefit will increase each year that you delay taking benefits until you reach age 70. Benefits will not decrease if you stop working at age 62 and defer taking benefits. However, continuing work after age 62 or delaying receiving benefits may result in increased future benefits.

Social Security Planning Tools

The decision about when to start taking benefits depends on your personal financial situation. If you live to the average life expectancy, you should expect to receive about the same total benefit either whether you opt to take early benefits or delay. Each year Social Security sends you a statement that shows your expected benefit at age 62, at full retirement age and at age 70. The Social Security website has planning tools to help you decide what would work best for you and your family (see Resources).