What age does social security kick in?

One of the important questions that retirees have about Social Security is the ideal age to collect the monthly checks. Find out the best age for Social Security.

3 min read

After paying into Social Security all your working life, you may consider claiming Social Security benefits when you retire. However, while it can be tempting to start drawing money from Social Security as soon as you retire, you must wait until you reach the minimum age for Social Security.

You can start taking Social Security retirement benefits starting at age 62. However, you will receive reduced benefits if you start receiving retirement benefits before the full retirement age. The full retirement age for social security is 66 and 2 months for anyone born between 1955 to 1959, and it increases to 67 for people born in 1960 or later.

When can you start collecting Social Security?

If you are eligible to receive Social Security benefits, you can claim retirement benefits starting at age 62. Once you turn 62, and you need money to meet your expenses, you can claim Social Security immediately. However, you should expect a reduction in monthly benefits, but the reduction will decrease as you approach the full retirement age.

If you have other incomes to support your needs, you can choose to delay taking Social Security benefits until when you reach the full retirement age. Also, when you delay taking retirement benefits, you will receive delayed retirement credits that would boost your benefits.

What is the full retirement age?

The full retirement age (FRA) is also known as the normal retirement age, and it is the age when you are eligible to receive full social security benefits. The FRA is 67 for anyone born in 1960 or later, while the FRA for people born from 1955 to 1959 ranges between 66 and 2 months to 66 and 10 months.

Traditionally, the FRA was 65, and this age has been increasing gradually due to legislation passed by Congress in 1983. This legislation raised the FRA because people are living longer and are healthier even in old age. The law raised the FRA starting with people born in 1983 or later, and it increases by a few months every birth year until the FRA reaches 67 for people born in 1967 or later.

Once you reach the FRA, you qualify to receive your full monthly benefits check that is based on your 35 best-paid years.

What happens if you claim Social Security after FRA?

If you have sufficient income to meet your retirement needs, it may make sense to delay taking benefits after reaching the full retirement age. You will earn delayed retirement credit for your benefits, and this means you will receive higher benefits than you would have received at the FRA. If you delay claiming social security after your FRA, your benefits increase by 8% yearly. You will also receive the cost of living adjustments in addition to the increase in benefits.

For example, if your full retirement age is 66 and 2 months, your benefits will increase by 8% each year until you reach age 70. The benefits will increase to 108% at age 67, 116% at age 68, 124% at age 69, and 132% at age 70. In comparison, if your FRA is age 67 and you delay taking benefits until 70, your benefits will increase to $108% at 68, 116% at 69, and 124% at age 70. However, delaying benefits after age 70 does not result in further increases, and there will be no benefit of waiting beyond 70 to claim these benefits.

Age requirement for other types of Social Security benefits

Apart from Social Security retirement benefits, there are other types of Social Security benefits that you may be eligible to receive.

Here are the age requirements for each type of Social Security benefit:

Spousal benefits

Spouses who did not work or earn enough credits to qualify for Social Security are eligible to claim Social Security on their spouse's record. A spouse can claim Social Security benefits starting at age 62, as long as the spouse on whose record they are claiming these benefits is also collecting Social Security retirement benefits. At age 62, the spouse will receive reduced benefits similar to the spouse with a work record.

Survivor benefits

When a spouse dies, the surviving spouse is entitled to claim survivor benefits from Social Security based on their own benefit or the deceased spouse's benefit. The surviving spouse can receive prorated benefits starting from age 60. Once the surviving spouse reaches their own FRA, they are entitled to receive the full benefit based on their own benefit or the deceased spouse's benefit, whichever is higher.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

SSDI is a Social Security benefit that pays benefits to workers who can no longer work due to a long-lasting impairment or disability. You must be 18 to 65 years old to be eligible to claim SSDI benefits based on your earnings record. However, an 18-year-old who has been disabled before age 22 can receive Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB) based on the parent's earning records.