What's My Social Security Retirement Age?

By Markets Fool.com

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Many retirement plans define age 65 as the "full retirement age," and as a result, many Americans (incorrectly) believe this is also the full retirement age for Social Security. However, your Social Security retirement age is actually age 66, 67, or somewhere in between, depending on when you were born. Here's what you need to know about Social Security retirement ages -- both present and future.

Your Social Security retirement age
Your exact Social Security full retirement age depends on the year you were born, and is somewhere between 66 and 67. Here's a chart that can help you find yours:

If You Were Born in ...

Your Full Retirement Age Is ...

1943-1954

66 years

1955

66 years, 2 months

1956

66 years, 4 months

1957

66 years, 6 months

1958

66 years, 8 months

1959

66 years, 10 months

1960 or later

67 years

Source: Social Security Administration.

So, the full retirement age for people retiring now is 66, but an increase to 67 will phase in beginning in 2021 when people born in 1955 start to reach retirement age.

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You can start collecting benefits earlier or later than this
Full retirement age (also known as normal retirement age) is the age at which you can file for Social Security and collect your full calculated retirement benefit. However, you can choose to file as early as age 62, or as late as age 70, regardless of your full retirement age.

If you choose to retire early, your benefits will be reduced, and if you choose to retire late, your benefit will increase. Here's how it works:

  • Your retirement benefit is reduced by 6.67% per year for every year you retire before your full retirement age, up to three years. For partial years, the reduction amount is five-ninths of 1% per month, up to a total of 36 months.
  • If you retire more than 36 months before your full retirement age, your benefits will be further reduced by 5% per year, or five-twelfths of 1% per month. Again, the earliest you can collect Social Security retirement benefits, regardless of when you were born, is 62 years old.
  • Finally, if you retire after your full retirement age, your benefit will increase by 8% for each year, or two-thirds of 1% for each month you choose to wait.

For example, let's say that your full retirement age is 67, but you decide to retire one year and three months early. Your full retirement benefit will be reduced by 6.67% for the full year, and five-ninths of 1% for each of the three months, for a total reduction of 8.33%.

For personalized information
If you're curious what your own full retirement benefit is estimated to be, you can find this and other valuable information at www.ssa.gov by creating an account. Once you've created an account, you'll be able to view your estimated full benefit, early and late retirement benefits, as well as eligibility and estimated for other types of benefits.

Not set in stone
One important thing to keep in mind if you're relatively young is that there's a real possibility that the Social Security retirement age will no longer be 67 by the time you get there. The Social Security trust funds are projected to run out of money in about 18 years, so something will have to be done to keep the system solvent. And, one possible solution -- although it's not a particularly popular one is raising the retirement age.

So, just because you can find your Social Security retirement age in the chart doesn't mean this will necessarily be your full retirement age by the time you're ready to start collecting your benefits.

The article What's My Social Security Retirement Age? originally appeared on Fool.com.

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