Social Security benefits make up a big portion of most people’s retirement income. That’s why the decision about when to start receiving these benefits is critical. As you decide which age is right for you, consider the following questions:
What is your full retirement age (FRA)?
You can find it on Page 2 of your Social Security statement, but those born from 1943 to 1954 reach their FRA at age 66. For this discussion, we’ll assume your individual benefit at 66 is $1,000 per month.
What if I take benefits early?
Although you can claim your benefits starting at 62 — at any time during the year — they will be reduced because you’re claiming Social Security benefits before 66.
Assuming your FRA benefit at 66 equals $1,000 per month, if you claim early at:
- 62, your benefit decreases 25% to $750 per month.
- 63, your benefit decreases 20% to $800 per month.
- 64, your benefit decreases 13.5% to $866 per month.
- 65, your benefit decreases 6.6% to $933 per month.
Once you start receiving payments, it’s important to note your claiming decision can’t be reversed unless you change your mind within the first year.
What if I delay receiving my benefits until after my FRA?
Your amount will increase for each month you delay receiving benefits after your FRA (66 in this example), up until 70. If you were born in or after 1943, you would receive an 8% increase for every year delayed.
Assuming your FRA benefit at 66 equals $1,000 per month, if you claim late at:
- 67, your benefit increases 8% to $1,080 per month.
- 68, your benefit increases 16% to $1,160 per month.
- 69, your benefit increases 24% to $1,240 per month.
- 70, your benefit increases 32% to $1,320 per month.
Keep in mind that your Social Security benefits generally increase by inflation, which helps you maintain spending power during retirement.
Your decision will depend on many factors, such as personal health, longevity, available financial resources and survivor needs.
Start by knowing your Social Security estimated benefit at your FRA. Access the Social Security Administration benefits calculators here.
Based on your personal situation and available resources, consider the effects of when you claim benefits — not just for you but also your survivors.