Social Security was created to provide basic retirement benefits for workers reaching age 65. Workers who pay (or have paid) Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes are covered by Social Security. After paying into the system for at least 40 quarters (10 years on average), you will be eligible to receive retirement income benefits. These benefits are based on a worker’s highest earnings over a 35-year period.
Social Security Full Retirement Age
Social Security benefits can start as early as age 62 or as late as age 70, but to receive full retirement benefits depends on the year of birth. Learn more about fill retirement ages with Social Security's Benefits Planner.
|Year of Birth||Full Retirement Age|
|1937 or earlier||65|
|1938||65 and 2 months|
|1939||65 and 4 months|
|1940||65 and 6 months|
|1941||65 and 8 months|
|1942||65 and 10 months|
|1955||66 and 2 months|
|1956||66 and 4 months|
|1957||66 and 6 months|
|1958||66 and 8 months|
|1959||66 and 10 months|
|1960 and later||67|
Filling Early for Social Security
The retirement benefit for those who file prior to reaching full retirement age will be permanently decreased, by up to 30%. Example: if the benefit at age 67 is $1,000, and filing is done at the earliest possible age (62), the benefit would only be $700. The penalty would extend throughout retirement.
Those who file for benefits after reaching the full retirement age may receive delayed retirement credits. This equals nearly an eight percent annual increase per year by waiting up to age 70. No further increases are available past age 70.
Applying for Social Security
Applications for Social Security can be submitted 3 ways.
- Online through the benefits application on the Social Security website,
- Online through the Medicare and Social Security application, or
- Call 1-800-772-1213; TTY for hearing impaired 1-800-325-0778.
Social Security Penalties
There are Penalties for receiving benefits before the maximum retirement age that varies based on starting age. Below is a chart of the penalties based on the age that you begin to claim Social Security benefits.
|Applying at Age:||Penalty|
|62||A permanent penalty of 25-30% (depending on the birth year of applicant).|
|Between full retirement age and 70||Up to 8% increase for each year of waiting after the eligible retirement age. Depending on the retirement age, it is possible to increase the regular monthly benefit by 24% or more by waiting to receive benefits.|
|At full retirement age||If the benefit at full retirement age is $1,000 but the individual waits until age 70 to file, the amount received will be around $1,240 (exact amount is based on the number of months following full retirement age).|