When to Collect Social Security Benefits

When to Start Collecting Social Security Benefits

You have three main options:

  • Start collecting early
  • Start collecting at full retirement age
  • Start collecting after full retirement age

“Full Retirement Age” depends on your date of birth.

Year of birth

Full retirement age

1943-1954

66

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 or later

67

Full retirement age is the age when you qualify for 100% of your Social Security benefits.   You’ll want to consider several factors such as your marital status, your health, your plans for retirement and your retirement income sources.

  • If you begin collecting at age 62. 

You can start collecting between age 62 and full retirement age and receive reduced benefits.  The reduction can be up to 30% depending on your age.

Collecting early means you receive benefits longer.  On the other hand, your benefits are reduced for you and your surviving spouse.

  • If you begin collecting at full retirement age.

At full retirement age, you receive 100% of your benefit for yourself and your surviving spouse.

Waiting to full retirement age gets you a larger monthly check from the Social Security Administration.  But you can increase your monthly check by waiting a little longer.    

  • If you delay past full retirement age. 

Delaying your benefit past full retirement age increases your benefits 8% annually up to 32% through delayed retirement credits.  Credits are available to age 70.

You have to weigh the pros and cons.  Waiting past full retirement age gets you a larger monthly payment.  However, you may receive checks for a shorter period depending on longevity.

Here’s a hypothetical example.  Let’s assume that your full retirement age is 66 and you are eligible for a benefit of $1000 per month at full retirement age.

If you start collecting at age

  • 62  you collect $750
  • 63 you collect $800
  • 64 you collect $866
  • 65 you collect $933
  • 66 you collect $1,000
  • 67 you collect $1,080
  • 68 you collect $1,160
  • 69 you collect $1,240
  • 70 you collect $1,320

Social Security benefits can get complicated, especially if you are married and you need to make decisions about spousal and widow benefits.  For more information, get our free brochure “Making Smart Decisions about Social Security.”

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