Vonda VanTil: When is a good time to start receiving Social Security benefits?

By Vonda VanTil

Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

After a lifetime of working, you deserve a comfortable retirement. For over 80 years, Social Security has been helping people shape their future, assisting them with a variety of benefits. It’s up to you as to when you start retirement benefits. You could start them early or wait until your “full retirement age,” or delay retirement to get extra money each month. There are benefits to either decision.

Full retirement age refers to the age when a person can receive their Social Security benefits without any reduction, even if they are still working part or full time. In other words, you don’t actually need to stop working to get your full benefits.

For people who reach age 62 in 2018 (i.e., those born between Jan. 2, 1956, and Jan. 1, 1957), full retirement age is 66 and four months. Full retirement age was age 65 for many years. However, due to a law passed by Congress in 1983, it has been gradually increasing, beginning with people born in 1938 or later, until it reaches 67 for everybody born after 1959.

You can learn more about the full retirement age and find out how to look up your own at socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire/retirechart.html.

You can start receiving Social Security benefits as early as age 62 or any time after that. The longer you wait, the higher your monthly benefit will be, although it stops increasing at age 70. Your monthly benefits will be reduced permanently if you start them any time before your full retirement age. For example, if you start receiving benefits in 2018 at age 62, your monthly benefit amount will be reduced permanently by nearly 27 percent.

On the other hand, if you wait to start receiving your benefits until after your full retirement age, then your monthly benefit will be higher. The amount of this increase is two-thirds of one percent for each month –– or 8 percent for each year –– that you delay receiving them until you reach age 70. The choices you make may affect any benefit your spouse or children can receive on your record, too. If you receive benefits early, it may reduce their potential benefit, as well as yours.

You need to be as informed as possible when making any decision about receiving Social Security benefits. Read the publication When to Start Receiving Retirement Benefits at socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10147.pdf.

When to start receiving retirement benefits is a personal decision based on your own situation. Check out our Retirement Checklist at socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10377.pdf to learn about additional factors to consider as you think about when to start receiving your retirement benefits.

Vonda VanTil is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov

Leave a Reply