Social Security: What happens to your benefits when you take them early

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Social Security can be an important tool for workers looking to maximize their retirement savings, when it is considered as a piece of a comprehensive plan.

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Workers who have paid into the system become eligible to begin taking Social Security benefits at the age of 62, but experts often recommend waiting until "full retirement age" in order to maximize benefits.


Full retirement age varies from 65 to 67, depending on your year of birth.

As previously reported by FOX Business, one of the big misconceptions people had about Social Security was that if they began collecting their check at the age of 62, their benefits would actually increase by the time they reached 65.

In fact, benefits are reduced based on the number of months they are claimed before full retirement age.

According to the Social Security Administration, if your full retirement age is 66, here’s a look at how your benefits could be reduced:

Start at 62: 25 percent reduction

Start at 63: 20 percent reduction

Start at 64: About 13.3 percent reduction

Start at 65: 6.7 percent reduction

If your full retirement age is older than 66 (if you were born after 1954), your benefit could be reduced by a maximum amount of 30 percent if you claim at age 62.

Start at 62: 30 percent reduction

Start at 63: 25 percent reduction

Start at 64: 20 percent reduction

Start at 65: 13.3 percent reduction

Start at 66: 6.7 percent reduction

The average age people tended to claim was 62, according to a report from the Nationwide Retirement Institute. However, delaying when you collect, when possible, can actually increase a worker’s benefit by as much as 32 percent.

The factors that determine the maximum benefit an individual can receive include work history, age, benefits start date and marital status.

The average monthly benefit for all retired workers after the 2.8 percent cost-of-living adjustment in 2019 is $1,461, according to the SSA. That compares with $1,422 last year.


The maximum Social Security benefit for a worker retiring at full retirement age in 2019 is $2,861 per month.According to the Social Security Administration, more than 68 million people collected Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, or both, as of June. Of those people, about 48.7 million were aged 65 or older.

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