Monday, September 25, 2023

What Age Can You Collect Social Security

what age can you collect social security

The decision to start collecting Social Security benefits is a significant one, and understanding when you can begin to collect can be a bit complex. For many Americans, Social Security benefits form a significant portion of their retirement income. This article dives into the specifics of when you can start collecting Social Security and the implications of your choices.

Understanding Full Retirement Age (FRA)

  • Definition: Your Full Retirement Age (FRA) is the age at which you qualify for 100% of your Social Security benefits based on your lifetime earnings.
  • Factors Influencing FRA: The year you were born determines your FRA. For instance, for those born in 1937 or earlier, the FRA is 65. This age gradually increases for those born later until it reaches 67 for those born in 1960 or later.

Early Retirement and Social Security

  • Starting at Age 62: The earliest age you can begin collecting Social Security is 62. However, taking benefits at this age means you’ll receive a reduced amount compared to waiting until your FRA.
  • Penalties for Early Collection: If you collect benefits before your FRA, you’ll experience a permanent reduction. For example, those with an FRA of 66 who start collecting at 62 will see a reduction of about 25%.

Collecting Social Security at Full Retirement Age

For those who wait until their FRA:

  • Full Benefits: You will receive 100% of the monthly benefit your work record entitles you to.
  • No Earnings Limit: There’s no limit on how much you can earn from work without seeing a reduction in your benefits.

Delaying Social Security Beyond FRA

  • Increased Benefits: For every year you delay collecting Social Security past your FRA, your benefits grow by a certain percentage up until age 70.
  • Maximizing Returns: If you delay collecting until age 70, you’ll maximize your monthly benefit amount. For instance, those with an FRA of 66 who wait until 70 to collect will receive a 32% increase in their monthly benefit compared to collecting at FRA.

Factors to Consider When Deciding When to Collect

  1. Life Expectancy: If you’re in good health and have a family history of longevity, it might be beneficial to delay.
  2. Current Financial Needs: If you need income immediately or have health concerns, collecting early might make more sense.
  3. Employment Status: If you’re still working, consider how your earnings might impact your Social Security benefits.


The age at which you decide to collect Social Security benefits is a personal decision based on various factors, including your financial situation, health, and retirement plans. By understanding the implications of collecting at different ages, you can make an informed decision that best fits your needs.