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What is the Social Security Retirement Age?

Social Security's full-benefit retirement age is increasing gradually because of legislation passed by Congress in 1983. Traditionally, the full benefit age was 65, and early retirement benefits were first available at age 62, with a permanent reduction to 80 percent of the full benefit amount. Currently, the full benefit age is 66 for people born in 1943-1954, and it will gradually rise to 67 for those born in 1960 or later. Early retirement benefits will continue to be available at age 62, but they will be reduced more. When the full-benefit age reaches 67, benefits taken at age 62 will be reduced to 70 percent of the full benefit and benefits first taken at age 65 will be reduced to 86.7 percent of the full benefit.

There is a financial bonus for delayed retirement. An individual reaching the full-benefit age in 2013 (66 years) receives an additional 8 percent benefit for each year he or she delays collecting benefits. If he or she delays taking benefits until age 70, the benefit will be 32 percent higher because of that delay. The maximum retirement benefit for someone who waits until age 70 to collect benefits is $3,350 a month in 2013.

Most people claim Social Security before they reach the age for full benefits. Of people who started getting retired worker benefits in 2011, three out of four (74 percent) received benefits that are reduced for early retirement. Just under half (41 percent of men and 47 percent of women) first claimed benefits at age 62.

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* The views of NASI members are their own and not an official position of the National Academy of Social Insurance or its funders.