When to start your benefits
You can start your Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. Your monthly benefit amount will be different depending on the age you start receiving it. If you choose to:
- start your benefits early, they will be reduced based on the number of months you receive benefits before you reach your full retirement age.
- The reduction in your benefit amount also depends on the year you were born. The maximum reduction at age 62 will be 25 percent for people who reach age 62 in 2008, and 30 percent for people born after 1959.
You could see a change in your benefit amount if you work after you start receiving benefits.
Some of your benefits may be withheld if you have excess earnings. However, after you reach full retirement age, we will recalculate your benefit amount to give you credit for any months in which you did not receive some benefit because of your earnings. Wait until full retirement age, your benefits will not be reduced.
Note: If you are full retirement age, you can apply for retirement benefits and then request to have payments suspended. That way, your spouse can receive a spouse’s benefit and you will continue to earn delayed retirement credits until age 70.
Delay benefits until after full retirement age, your benefit will be increased based on the number of months you do not receive benefits between full retirement age and age 70.
Caution: If you apply for benefits more than 6 months after the month you reach full retirement age, we can only pay benefits for the previous 6 months.
There is no additional benefit increase after you reach age 70, even if you continue to delay taking benefits.
Note: Social Security benefits are paid the month after they are due.
If you tell us you want your benefits to start in May, you will receive your first benefit check in June. (If you want to receive your first benefit check in May, you need to be eligible for benefits in April AND tell us you want your benefits to start that month.)
Starting Benefits Early
Pros and Cons–The earliest you can start receiving Social Security retirement benefits will remain age 62.
As a general rule, early or late retirement will give you about the same total Social Security benefits over your lifetime. If you retire early, the monthly benefit amounts will be smaller to take into account the longer period you will receive them. If you retire late, you will get benefits for a shorter period of time but the monthly amounts will be larger to make up for the months when you did not receive anything.
There are advantages and disadvantages to taking your benefit before your full retirement age. The advantage is that you collect benefits for a longer period of time. The disadvantage is your benefit is reduced. Each person’s situation is different, so remember that, if you delay your benefits until after full retirement age, you may be eligible for delayed retirement credits that would increase your monthly benefit; keep in mind that there are other things to consider when making the correct decision about your retirement benefits and contact Social Security before you decide when to retire.
Full Retirement Age
Here’s how it works if your full retirement age is 67.
If you start your retirement benefits at age 62, your monthly benefit amount is reduced by about 30 percent. The reduction for starting benefits at age
63 is about 25 percent;
64 is about 20 percent;
65 is about 13.3 percent; and
66 is about 6.7 percent.
If you start receiving spouse’s benefits at age 62, your monthly benefit amount is reduced to about 32.5 percent of the amount your spouse would receive if his or her benefits started at full retirement age. (The reduction is about 67.5 percent.) The reduction for starting benefits as a spouse at age
63 is about 65 percent;
64 is about 62.5 percent;
65 is about 58.3 percent;
66 is about 54.2 percent; and
67 is 50 percent (the maximum benefit amount).
Benefits for your spouse
The earliest a widow or widower can start receiving Social Security survivors benefits based on age will remain at age 60.
If you receive survivors benefits early
As a general rule, early survivors benefits based on your age will give you about the same total Social Security survivors benefits over your lifetime, but in smaller amounts to take into account the longer period you will receive them.
You can receive widows or widowers benefits based on your age at any time between age 60 and your full retirement age as a survivor. However, if you start at an earlier age, your survivors benefits are reduced a fraction of a percent for each month before your full retirement age.
If you receive widow’s or widower’s benefits, and you will qualify for a retirement benefit that’s more than your survivors benefit, you can switch to your own retirement benefit as early as age 62. The rules are complicated and vary depending on your situation, so talk to a Social Security representative about the options available to you.
Pros and Cons
There are disadvantages and advantages to taking your survivors benefit before your full retirement age. The advantage is that you collect benefits for a longer period of time. The disadvantage is that your survivors benefit may be reduced.