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SOCIAL SECURITY

At what age can I start receiving Social Security retirement benefits?

The SSA offers the most widely-used form of retirement support in the United States and the amount you receive each month is based on when you first claim.

Update:
Retirement benefits are by far the most extensive of the support programmes offered by the SSA but working out your potential entitlement can be confusing.

Figures from the Social Security Administration (SSA) from February 2022 showed that more than 70.1 million people in the United States are currently in receipt of Social Security support. Of that number, 50.4 million are in receipt of retirement benefits.

It’s the largest federal retirement programme on offer but the entitlement for it can be a little confusing. There is no fixed age when you have to start receiving the monthly payments, but the time when you first claim the support will have a bearing on how much you receive each month.

Each individual has a ‘full retirement age’, which can vary based on the year in which they were born. Regardless of your full retirement age you can start receiving Social Security retirement benefits at 62, but opting to defer the payments will bag you a larger monthly payment when you do decide to claim the support.

Once you reach 70 years old, the monthly payment stays the same. With this in mind you should try to hold off from claiming Social Security retirement benefits for as long as possible, up to the age of 70 if it is possible.

When is my Social Security full retirement age?

Over time the full retirement age in the United States has risen slightly as citizens start living longer, workers’ jobs become less physically demanding and the national workforce becomes slightly older.

The full retirement age, depending on your year of birth, varies between 66 and 67 years old.

If you were born between 1943 and 1954, your full retirement age is 66. If year were born later than that, your retirement age will rise by two months for every year past 1954 that you were born in. For example, a worker born in 1956 would reach full retirement age when they were exactly 66 years and four months old.

The maximum full retirement age is 67 years old, no matter how long after 1954 you were born.

For full details to help you plan the start of your Social Security retirement benefits, check out the SSA’s full retirement age chart.

Related stories:

It is possible to retire and still work

This is particularly important in the current period of high inflation in the US economy. While you may want to retire, that does not preclude you from working. There are earning thresholds which could result in some of you retirement benefits being dropped. If you are under the age of 67, there is a limit on how much you can earn in a year before your benefits are reduced. For 2022, the annual earning limit is $19,560.

If you earn over this threshold, the SSA will reduce your benefits payments by $1 for every $2 you earn over it.

If you will reach full retirement age in 2022, the limit on your earnings before penalties will be $51,960. If you earn over this limit after reaching full retirement age, the SSA will deduct $1 in benefits for every $3 you earn above a different limit. However, this only counts earnings before the month you reach your full retirement age.

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