How to Determine Your Full Retirement Age for Social Security - dummies

How to Determine Your Full Retirement Age for Social Security

By Jonathan Peterson

Copyright © 2015 AARP

A key consideration in choosing a start date for collecting Social Security is something called your full retirement age. The Social Security Administration (SSA) gives you a window of several years before and after your full retirement age in which to begin collecting your retirement benefits.

Your first question is probably: How much Social Security am I going to get? The answer: It depends. The first step is knowing your full retirement age. If you collect Social Security before reaching your full retirement age, you’ll get less each month — potentially a lot less, for the rest of your life. If you collect Social Security after reaching your full retirement age, you’ll get more each month.

Your full retirement benefit is the amount you get if you wait until your full retirement age to begin collecting. But what the SSA calls your full benefit is not the biggest benefit you can get. You can actually get up to 32 percent more than your full benefit by waiting until you’re 70 to begin collecting. The SSA uses your full benefit as the starting point when it decides how much you or your dependents will receive.

The earliest age at which you can start collecting retirement benefits is 62, and the latest is 70. Your full retirement age falls somewhere in between. Take a look below to see a person’s full retirement age based on his or her year of birth.

Year of Birth Full Retirement Age
1937 or earlier 65 years
1938 65 years and 2 months
1939 65 years and 4 months
1940 65 years and 6 months
1941 65 years and 8 months
1942 65 years and 10 months
1943–1954 66 years
1955 66 years and 2 months
1956 66 years and 4 months
1957 66 years and 6 months
1958 66 years and 8 months
1959 66 years and 10 months
1960 and later 67 years

If you were born on January 1, refer to the previous year. Full retirement age may be slightly different for survivor benefits.