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  • MICHAEL KENNEDY

Overview of Full Retirement Age

Updated: May 1

What is the full retirement age?

Full retirement age varies depending on your birth year, but for many current retirees, it falls between 66 and 67 years old. To determine your exact full retirement age, you can refer to the Social Security Administration’s official website or consult with a financial advisor.


How does Full Retirement Age work?

Full retirement age is the age at which you can start receiving your full Social Security Administration (SSA) retirement benefits. If you begin receiving benefits before or after your full retirement age, your monthly benefit amount may be reduced or increased accordingly.


While you can generally start receiving SSA benefits as early as 62 years old, your monthly benefit will be reduced. Conversely, if you choose to delay receiving SSA retirement benefits, you'll receive a higher monthly amount. To make the most informed decision about when to start receiving benefits, it's advisable to consult with a financial advisor.


Evolution of Full Retirement Age

The full retirement age (FRA) in the United States has undergone several changes over the years. Initially, when Social Security was established in 1935, the FRA was set at 65, and this remained the standard for many years. However, due to changes in life expectancy and economic factors, the FRA has been adjusted.


  1. Early 1980s: The Social Security Amendments of 1983 introduced a phased increase in the FRA. It began to rise from age 65 and gradually increased in two-month increments, reaching 66 for those born in the years 1943-1954.

  2. Born After 1954: For individuals born after 1954, the FRA continues to increase incrementally. It reaches 67 for those born in 1960 or later.


These changes were implemented to align the FRA with increasing life expectancies and to ensure the long-term financial stability of the Social Security program. It’s important for individuals approaching retirement age to be aware of their specific FRA, as it impacts the amount of Social Security benefits they can receive.


Understanding Your Retirement Benefits


How much social security will I get at age 62?

The amount of Social Security benefits you receive at age 62 is determined by various factors, including your lifetime earnings, the age at which you choose to start receiving benefits, and whether you continue to work while receiving benefits. Generally, if you choose to start receiving Social Security benefits at age 62, your monthly benefit amount will be reduced compared to what you would receive if you waited until your full retirement age (FRA).

The reduction is typically around 25% if your FRA is 66 and about 30% if your FRA is 67. It’s essential to carefully consider your specific circumstances and financial needs when deciding when to begin receiving Social Security benefits. A financial advisor can provide valuable guidance tailored to your individual situation.


How much social security will I get at age 65? 

The amount of Social Security benefits you receive at age 65 is also influenced by factors such as your lifetime earnings and your full retirement age (FRA). While 65 is often considered a common retirement age, it may not align with your FRA, which can range from 66 to 67, depending on your birth year.

If you choose to start receiving benefits at age 65, your monthly benefit amount may be slightly higher than if you started at age 62, but it will still be less than your full benefit amount. The exact amount will depend on your specific circumstances and the age at which you decide to claim your benefits. Therefore, it's crucial to carefully evaluate your financial situation and consult with a financial advisor to make an informed decision about when to begin receiving Social Security benefits.


Is the retirement age changing?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has already increased the retirement age for those who are now reaching age 65. It’s 66 now, and gradually going up to age 67. The retirement age increases slightly for every age group (starting with those born in 1938). There are several age groups. Here are just a few examples:


  • Currently, age 66 is the full retirement age for people born between 1943 and 1954.

  • A person born in 1955 will have to be 66 and 2 months to be considered at full retirement age.

  • Someone born in 1957 will have to be the age of 66 1/2 to receive full benefits.

  • If you were born in 1960 or later, you can’t receive full Social Security benefits until age 67.


How does my retirement age affect my Medicare benefits?

Your eligibility for Medicare benefits is not dependent on your Social Security Administration (SSA) retirement age. In most cases, you can still enroll in Medicare at age 65, even if you haven't reached your SSA retirement age. Importantly, you usually don't need to apply for Social Security benefits to enroll in Medicare.

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