When should I start collecting my Social Security retirement benefits?

Answer: When you should start collecting Social Security retirement benefits depends on your specific situation.

You are eligible to claim Social Security retirement benefits without any reduction at what the Social Security Administration calls the full retirement age. For people born after 1942, full retirement age ranges from 66 to 67, depending on the year you were born.

This means you can:

  • Claim your benefits after your full retirement age and receive an increased monthly benefit. Your benefit increases with each month that you wait to claim your benefit after reaching full retirement age. At age 70, you get the maximum monthly possible benefit, there is no additional benefit to be gained by waiting to claim after age 70. Claiming after the full retirement age and getting an increased benefit may make sense if you are healthy, want to work longer, and want the highest possible monthly Social Security benefit.

 

  • Claim your benefits before your full retirement age and receive a reduced monthly benefit. Your benefit is reduced for each month that you claim your benefit before you reach full retirement age. At age 62, you will get the lowest possible monthly benefit. Claiming before your full retirement age and getting a reduced benefit may make sense if you are in poor health or need the income owing to unemployment or a disability.

The amount you receive from Social Security is a one-time choice. Your payment typically doesn’t change during your retirement, other than cost-of-living adjustments. This means that if you claim a reduced benefit, you receive the reduced amount permanently. And this decision applies not only to your own Social Security benefit, but the payments to others who receive benefits based on your work history, like your surviving spouse and dependent children.

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