When to begin collecting Social Security
- Social Security eligibility depends on your birth year.
- Reduced benefits are available at age 62.
- The longer you wait to begin collecting, the higher your payment will be.
- Your family members may be able to receive benefits through you.
While Social Security likely will not cover all your expenses in retirement, it can supplement income from other savings accounts and employer plans. Now is the time to understand the implications of when you begin taking your Social Security benefits.
You can begin receiving reduced benefits as early as 62, but to receive your full benefit, you must reach full retirement age (as defined by Social Security). Your full Social Security retirement age depends on the year you were born.
Full Social Security retirement age
|Birth year||Full retirement age|
|1937 or earlier||65 years|
|1938||65 years, 2 months|
|1939||65 years, 4 months|
|1940||65 years, 6 months|
|1941||65 years, 8 months|
|1942||65 years, 10 months|
|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|
Delaying requesting benefits
Just because Social Security considers age 65 (or 66, or 67) to be your full retirement age, doesn't mean that you have to start collecting benefits at that time. There is a considerable advantage to waiting.
For each month past your full Social Security retirement age you put off receiving retirement benefits, your benefit will automatically increase by a certain percentage. This increase depends on your year of birth.
Increase for delayed retirement
|Year of birth||Yearly rate of increase||Monthly rate of increase|
|1933-1934||5.5%||11/24 of 1%|
|1935-1936||6.0%||1/2 of 1%|
|1937-1938||6.5%||13/24 of 1%|
|1939-1940||7.0%||7/12 of 1%|
|1941-1942||7.5%||5/8 of 1%|
|1943 or later||8.0%||2/3 of 1%|
Note: If you were born on January 1st, you should refer to the rate of increase for the previous year.
You qualify for the maximum benefit by waiting to collect until age 70, so there is no reason to delay beyond that point.
If you can't or don't want to wait until full Social Security retirement age, it's possible to begin collecting Social Security as early as age 62. While this may seem tempting, you should try to avoid it if possible. Your monthly benefit will be reduced by about 0.5% for every month you start collecting before full retirement age. That may not sound like much, but it adds up:
|Born||Full retirement age||Implications of taking SS payments at 62|
|1948||66||25% lower benefit than if you wait until 66|
|1961||67||30% lower benefit than if you wait until 67|
Working while receiving benefits
At age 62 or older, you can continue to work and also receive Social Security retirement benefits. Be aware that there may be a tradeoff between working and collecting, depending on your age and your employment income.
If you begin Social Security when you are…
|Younger than full retirement age||In the year you turn full retirement age||Older than full retirement age|
When you die, your spouse and other family members may be eligible for survivors benefits, provided they meet the following conditions.
|Your widow or widower is||Your unmarried children are||Your parents are|
Applying at the right time
When you apply for Social Security can make a significant difference. The same is true for Medicare, which you are eligible for at age 65. If you haven't applied yet, here are guidelines to consider.
|Benefit||When to apply||Where to apply||Keep in mind|
|Social Security||Three months before the date you will retire||Local Social Security office, or on the SSA website||Only the SSA can provide an up-to-date calculation of your benefits.|
|Medicare||Three months before your 65th birthday||Local Social Security office, or on the SSA website||If you wait, you may wind up paying more for Medicare Part B (medical insurance) and Part D (prescription drug insurance) coverage.|
For most people, Social Security is just one part of a complete retirement plan. That's why it's a good idea to review your total retirement income situation with your Ameriprise financial advisor. Your financial advisor can help you build step-by-step toward a confident retirement.
1 Earnings include salaries, bonuses, and commissions, but not pensions, annuities, and investment income, which do not affect your Social Security benefit.
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Remember to consult with a Social Security agent when making decisions about your Social Security benefits.
Ameriprise Financial Services Inc., and its affiliates do not offer tax or legal advice. Consumers should consult with their tax advisor or attorney regarding their specific situation.