Full Retirement Age

We often hear the question, “What is the best age to begin Social Security benefits.” And while it may sound confusing, our answer is always, “It depends.” There are a number of factors that impact when you should begin your benefits, and one very important factor is your Full Retirement Age, or FRA.

Your Full Retirement Age (FRA, also sometimes called Normal Retirement Age) is the age at which, should you begin benefits, you will receive full benefits, or the Primary Insurance Amount. While you may be eligible to begin benefits as early as age 62, your monthly amount will be reduced unless 62 is your FRA. Those who delay benefits until reaching FRA receive a higher level of benefits. In addition, benefits that are received before an individual reaches FRA are subject to reduction if the individual continues working and earns income above specified limits (see “The Earnings Test“).

The FRA for individuals varies by birth year. For social security benefit calculations, full retirement age is determined as follows:

  • If you were born in 1937 or earlier, full retirement age is 65.
  • If you were born in 1960 or later, full retirement age is 67.
  • If you were born between 1938 and 1959, your full retirement age will be between age 65 and 67. You can see Social Security’s full retirement age chart for details on every year between 1938 and 1959.

Because your benefits will be reduced if you begin before FRA, it’s important to look holistically at your options. When determining the best time for you to begin benefits, factors other than FRA are critical: life expectancy, health, income producing assets, and marital status must all be carefully analyzed to determine how your Social Security benefits will be best managed in your situation. We can help reduce the confusion about your Social Security benefits and provide you with a free snapshot of your Social Security options. In addition, you can review several of our online Case Studies related to Social Security options and the material difference the appropriate selections can make in lifetime benefits.

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