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Should I claim my Social Security retirement benefits when I stop working?

You don't have to claim your benefits when you stop working, and you can continue to work even if you claim your benefits.

While many people choose to claim their benefits when they stop working, you can time these decisions in a way that's best for you.

When deciding when to stop work and when to claim your benefits, keep in mind:

  • If you claim your benefits before what the Social Security Administration calls the full retirement age , and you continue to work, your benefits are temporarily reduced through the Social Security earnings test if you earn over a specified amount. What many people do not know, however, is that once you reach full retirement age, Social Security recalculates your benefit and credits you for any month that you were affected by the earnings test. This means your Social Security payments are higher after you reach full retirement age.
  • Applying for Medicare is a separate decision. Typically, Medicare benefits are not available until you turn age 65. If you stop working before age 65, and you receive health insurance through your employer, you need to consider how to provide for your health coverage until you are eligible for Medicare. Unlike Social Security, you must apply for Medicare at age 65 or penalties could apply.

Tip: Check out this easy tool to get a rough estimate of your benefit and see how your benefit changes depending on what age you claim.

Other Resources:

Open a my Social Security account to see your full earnings record, and get a copy of your Social Security Statement.