Social Security & Retirement Age

Social Security & Retirement Age
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Working and paying Social Security taxes earns you credits toward qualifying for retirement benefits. The Social Security Administration, or SSA, tracks your credits and determines eligibility when you apply for benefits.


Each $1,120 in earnings was equal to one credit as of 2010. A maximum of four credits may be earned each year. The SSA indicates that the dollar amount of earnings required for each credit increases slightly each year.


According to the SSA, if you were born in 1929 or later, you need 40 credits (10 years) of work to be eligible for benefits. Those born before 1929 need fewer credits.


Full retirement age used to be 65. Amendments to Social Security in 1983 increased the full retirement age, beginning with people born after 1937. Now full retirement age is 67 for anyone born after 1959.


Benefits may be taken as early as age 62, regardless of full retirement age, but at a reduced amount. For example, if your full retirement age is 67, at age 62 the reduction in benefits is 30 percent, at 64 it is 20 percent, and at 66 it is about 6.7 percent.


You can apply for Social Security retirement benefits online, by phone, or in person by appointment at your nearest Social Security office.