Everything you need to know about when to claim social security
Everything you need to know about when to claim social security

Everything you need to know about when to claim social security

If you qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, as almost all U.S. workers do, you can choose to start collecting them as early as age 62 or as late as age 70 – or anywhere in between. The age at which you require social security will be used to determine how much money you receive each month initially, so it is an important financial decision.

In this article, we will discuss the concept of full retirement age, what happens if you claim social security earlier or later than your full retirement age, and other important information you need to know about when to claim social security , and what it means to you.

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What is your full retirement age?

Your Social security pension benefit is determined by a formula based on your earnings throughout your career. However, this formula is only used to determine a number called your primary insurance amount or PIA. This is the amount you can expect to receive if you apply for unemployment benefits at your full retirement age.

Many Americans mistakenly believe that full retirement age is 65, and to be fair it once was. But your full retirement age for social security purposes depends on when you were born and ranges from 66 to 67. Here’s a quick guide:

Year you were born

Your full retirement age

1954 or earlier

66 years


66 years, 2 months


66 years, 4 months


66 years, 6 months


66 years, 8 months


66 years, 10 months

1960 or later

67 years

Data source: Social Security Administration.

What if you claim social security at any other age?

To be sure, very few people actually require social security on their exact full retirement age. In fact, the two most common ages for requiring social security are 62 (as early as possible) and 65 (Medicare eligibility).

However, full retirement age is still an important concept to know because it determines whether your benefit is adjusted up or down when you claim it. The Social Security Administration has three age-related guidelines:

  • If you apply ahead of time, your benefit will be permanently reduced by 6.67% for each year you apply ahead of time, for up to three years before you reach full retirement age.
  • If you apply more than three years before your full retirement age, your benefit will be reduced at a rate of 5% per annum over three years until you reach the age of 62.
  • If you claim after your full retirement age, your benefit will be permanently increased by 8% for each year you expect from your PIA, until as late as the age of 70. And it’s important to mention that all three of these rules are relatively monthly – in other words, if you wait at all one or two months after FRA to apply, it will have a positive impact on your benefit.

That is how it works. Let’s say that based on your work history, your PIA is $ 2,000 a month. So that’s how much you would get if you claimed exactly the full retirement age. We would also like to say for your convenience that your full retirement age is 67.

If you apply for 62 years (five years ahead of time), your benefit will be reduced by 6.67% for each of the first three years ahead of time and 5% for the other two, giving an overall reduction of 30%. Your $ 2,000 monthly benefit will be adjusted to $ 1,400.

If you claim 70 (three years late), your benefit will be increased by 8% for each of the three years you choose to wait, to a total increase of 24%. Your $ 2,000 PIA would be $ 2,400 a month when you start getting checks.

When do you need to fill out the application?

You can apply for benefits (which you can easily do online) up to four months before you want your social benefits to start. For example, if you want your benefits to start in January 2023, you can apply as early as September 2022. And it is a good idea to apply as early as possible when you know when you will claim benefits, to avoid any . delays.

It is also important to keep in mind that social benefits are paid one month in arrears. In other words, you will not receive your January social security payment until February. So keep this in mind when it comes to budgeting.

When shall you require social security?

Every situation is different. For some people, it may make excellent financial sense to claim 62, and others are best served by waiting as long as they can. One thing to keep in mind is that unless you have a retirement plan, social security is probably it only inflation-protected, guaranteed income stream you want in retirement. While it does not always make sense to wait, keep this in mind when deciding what is best for you.

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