What is the full retirement age for Social Security?
October 24, 2023 7 min read
Depending on when you were born, the full retirement age—sometimes referred to as the FRA—for receiving full Social Security retirement benefits is 66 to 67 for Americans.
For those born from 1943 to 1955, the full retirement age is 66. From there, the full retirement age increases in two-month increments for those born from 1956 to 1959. The full retirement age is 67 for anyone born in 1960 or after.
Read on to learn more about the full retirement age in the U.S.
Social Security retirement benefits become available at age 62.
Depending on when you were born, the full retirement age for full Social Security retirement benefits is 66 to 67.
Waiting until full retirement age to claim Social Security retirement benefits makes it possible to put more money in the bank.
Delaying Social Security retirement benefits after you reach full retirement age might boost your retirement benefits even more.
What is my full retirement age?
A 1983 change in federal law increased the full retirement age for full Social Security benefits. Beginning with people born after January 1, 1938, the FRA started a gradual rise from 65 to 67. When they boosted the FRA, federal lawmakers cited improved health among older Americans and longer life expectancies as two of the reasons.
The FRA is 66 for those born from 1943 to 1954. The full retirement age then goes up by a few months per birth year for people born from 1955 to 1960. For anyone born in 1960 or later, eligibility for full Social Security benefits begins at age 67.
|Birth year||Age of full retirement|
|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|
How much will I get in Social Security retirement benefits?
Your income history and retirement age affect how much your Social Security retirement benefits will be. The more income you’ve earned throughout your life, the higher your benefits should be. And the longer you delay retirement, the more benefits you should receive. So if you retire at the earliest age possible, 62, your benefits would be reduced versus waiting to retire until you’re older.
The table below provides an example of how your Social Security benefits go up as you age:
|Age when a wage earner born between 1943 and 1954 starts getting benefits||Amount benefits are reduced to|
|66 (full retirement age)||100% (no reduction)|
For details about your income history and future benefits, visit the my Social Security online portal.
When someone applies for Social Security retirement benefits, their spouse may qualify for benefits based on the applicant’s earnings. However, the spouse must be at least 62 years old and be caring for a child who is under 16 or receives Social Security disability benefits. Spousal benefits may be up to 50% of the applicant’s retirement benefits.
If a spouse is eligible for Social Security retirement benefits based on their own earnings and those benefits are higher than the spousal benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) pays the retirement benefits. Otherwise, the SSA pays the spousal benefits.
A spouse can retire as early as age 62. However, that might result in spousal benefits as little as 32.5% of the worker’s full retirement benefits. Spousal benefits are reduced 25/36 of 1% for each month before normal retirement age, up to 36 months. If the number of months surpasses 36, the benefits are further reduced 5/12 of 1% per month.
The SSA pays survivor benefits to widows, widowers and dependents of eligible workers who have died. People generally do not need to apply for survivor benefits unless they are receiving their own Social Security retirement or disability benefits.
To be eligible for survivor benefits, someone must be:
Age 60 or above, or 50 or above if they have a disability.
An unmarried child of the deceased person who either is under age 18—up to age 19 if they’re a full-time elementary or secondary school student—or is age 18 or above with a disability that started before age 22.
Parents at least 62 years old who depended on the deceased child for at least half their support.
Under certain circumstances, a stepchild, grandchild, step-grandchild or adopted child.
Under certain circumstances, a surviving ex-spouse.
What is early retirement?
You can begin getting Social Security retirement benefits if you take early retirement. The earliest age you can do that is 62. You then qualify for full benefits once you hit your full retirement age. If you put off receiving benefits from your full retirement age up to age 70, your benefit amount should go up.
The table below shows how your Social Security benefit amount can be reduced by taking early retirement:
|Birth year||Full retirement age||Percentage reduced in early retirement||Amount a $1,000 payment is reduced to|
|1955||66 and 2 months||25.83%||$741|
|1956||66 and 4 months||26.67%||$733|
|1957||66 and 6 months||27.5%||$725|
|1958||66 and 8 months||28.33%||$716|
|1959||66 and 10 months||29.17%||$708|
What are delayed retirement credits?
Someone earns credits—known as delayed retirement credits—for putting off receiving Social Security benefits after reaching their full retirement age. These credits raise your benefits by a certain percentage for each month you delay getting benefits. This benefit increase ends at age 70.
For someone born in 1943 or later, the monthly rate of increase available from delayed retirement credits is 2/3 of 1%. That adds up to a 12-month rate of 8%.
Other important retirement ages
Medicare retirement age: Medicare generally is available to people ages 65 and above. You may be able to get Medicare benefits before age 65 if you have a disability, permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant, or ALS—also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Roth IRA retirement age: Once someone is 59 1/2 years old, they can take money out of a Roth IRA without paying a 10% early withdrawal penalty. Before 59 1/2, they can avoid the early withdrawal penalty in certain situations. These include buying, building or rebuilding their first home or having or adopting a child within the past year.
Traditional IRA retirement age: Someone generally must begin taking a required minimum distribution each year from a traditional IRA when they reach age 72—or 73 if they reached 72 after December 31, 2022. Penalty-free withdrawals from a traditional IRA can be done once the account owner hits age 59 1/2. Under some circumstances, someone can avoid the 10% early withdrawal penalty for withdrawals before 59 1/2. These include buying, building or rebuilding a first home or being completely and permanently disabled.
What to consider when planning retirement age
A number of factors can drive a decision about when to retire and when to start collecting Social Security benefits. Among these factors are someone’s life expectancy, post-retirement work plans, and amount of savings and investments:
Someone’s life expectancy plays a part in what their retirement age should be. Estimating life expectancy can help ensure they build up an adequate amount of money to cover post-retirement expenses. The longer someone expects to live, the more retirement savings they may need.
To come up with a life expectancy estimate, use the Social Security Administration’s life expectancy calculator.
Once someone reaches full retirement age, their Social Security benefits aren’t reduced if they’re working part time or full time. But if someone is under the full retirement age and is working, their Social Security benefits might be reduced until they reach full retirement age.
For example, if someone is under full retirement age for the entire year, the SSA deducts $1 from their benefit payments for every $2 earned above the annual limit. For 2023, that limit is $21,240.
Savings and investments
How much someone saves or invests ahead of retirement also affects their retirement age.
Experts suggest a number of formulas to determine how much to set aside for retirement. Factors that may change this equation include whether you plan to work during retirement and what kind of lifestyle you want to lead.
Full retirement age in a nutshell
Depending on when you were born, the full retirement age for Social Security ranges from 66 to 67. You become eligible for Social Security retirement benefits at 62. But waiting until your full retirement age to claim those benefits might put more money in your pocket. And delaying your benefits until after hitting your full retirement age may give you even more cash to cover post-retirement expenses.
To ensure you’re on track to live comfortably after you’ve retired, learn how to start saving for retirement.