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 years and 2 months for people born in 1955, 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 2017 (66 years and 2 months old) receives a monthly benefit that is 8 percent higher for each year he or she delays collecting benefits until the latest claiming age of 70, at which point benefits are 132% of what they would have been at the normal retirement age. (When the full benefit age reaches 67, benefits claimed at age 70 will be 24 percent higher because of that delay.) The maximum retirement benefit in 2017 for someone who waits until age 70 to collect benefits is $3,538 a month.
For more information, see:
- Social Security Benefits, Finances, and Policy Options: A Primer
- Toolkit: When to Take Social Security: It Pays to Wait
- INFOGRAPHIC: Can You Wait to Receive Social Security Benefits?
- When to Take Social Security: Questions to Consider, Social Security Brief No. 31
- Economic Status of the Elderly in the United States
- Strengthening Social Security for Workers in Physically Demanding Occupations
- Social Security and Retirement Income Adequacy, Social Security Brief No. 25
- Increasing the Early Retirement Age under Social Security: Health, Work, and Financial Resources, Health and Income Security for an Aging Workforce Brief No. 7
Read what some Academy members think:*
- Tatsuko Go Hollo: Delaying Retirement: Should Average Life Expectancy Determine Retirement Age?” (2013)
- Thomas N. Bethell: “World’s best investment? Delaying Social Security” (2012)
- Anna Rappaport: “Understanding Mortality Improvement” (2011)
- Eric Kingson: “Social Security and the Vanishing 401(k)” (2008)
* The views of Academy members are their own and not an official position of the National Academy of Social Insurance or its funders.