When to start receiving retirement benefits
You’re already receiving your Medicare benefits. At some point, you’ll need to decide when to start receiving your Social Security retirement benefits. We hope the following information will help you in planning for this important decision.
If you were born from 1943 to 1954, your full retirement age is 66. The full retirement age gradually increases to 67 for people born in 1955 through 1960. For all people born after 1960, age 67 is their full retirement age. If you choose to delay receiving your retirement benefit beyond full retirement age, we’ll increase your benefit. Your benefit can increase as much as 8 percent a year up to age 70. Your benefits will no longer increase if you delay beyond age 70.
The graph below shows an example of how your decision can affect your monthly benefit amount.
Figure 1 — Monthly benefits differ based on the age you start receiving benefits. The chart shows an example assuming a monthly benefit amount of $1,000 at a full retirement age of 66. The greater the age at which you start receiving benefits, the higher the monthly benefit amount you receive. In this example, at age 66 the amount would be $1,000; at age 67 the amount would be $1,080; at age 68 the amount would be $1,160; at age 69 the amount would be $1,240; and at age 70 the amount would be $1,320.
You can use our online Retirement Estimator to see an estimate of your personal retirement benefit, and the effects of different retirement age decisions. We provide more information about the Retirement Estimator later in this fact sheet.
Retirement may be longer than you think
The age you start receiving benefits can make a significant difference in your monthly benefit amount. You may need your monthly income for a long time, because more people are living longer. For example:
The typical 65-year-old today will live to age 85;
About one out of every three 65-year-olds will live until at least age 90; and
About one out of seven 65-year-olds will live until at least age 95.
For more information on life expectancy, go to our website at
Rules that can affect your survivor
If you’re married, and die before your spouse, they can be eligible for a benefit based on your work record.
If you wait until after your full retirement age to begin receiving benefits, the surviving spouse benefits based on your record will be higher.
What about receiving benefits while you work?
When you reach your full retirement age, you can work and earn as much as you want and still receive your full Social Security benefit payment.
Also, more work may increase your benefits. Each year, we review the records for all Social Security recipients who work. If your latest year of earnings turns out to be one of your highest years, we refigure your benefit and pay you any increase due.
Use the online Retirement Estimator to find the best choice for you
Everyone’s finances are different. Social Security has an online calculator that can provide immediate and accurate retirement benefit estimates to help you plan for your retirement.
The online Retirement Estimator is a convenient and secure financial planning tool that uses your own earnings record information. The Estimator will also let you see the effects of different retirement decisions. For example, you can change your expected future earnings to create and compare different retirement age choices. To use the Retirement Estimator, go to our website at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.
Applying for benefits online is so easy
The easiest way to apply for Social Security retirement benefits is to go online at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyforbenefits. You can complete your application up to four months before the month in which you want retirement benefits to begin.
If you don’t have access to the internet, you can call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY number, 1-800-325-0778) between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, to apply by phone.
You can also apply at any Social Security office. To avoid a long wait, call first to make an appointment.
Interested in other useful information?
You can visit these Social Security webpages.
This planner provides details about Social Security retirement benefits under current law. It also points out things you may want to consider as you prepare for the future.
On this webpage, you can set up a personal my Social Security account and check your earnings record on your Social Security Statement. The Statement is available online to workers age 18 and older. You can also print a copy of your Social Security Statement. If you believe that any information in your Statement is incorrect, let your employer and your Social Security office know.
This webpage has answers to the most frequently asked questions about Social Security.
You can also visit these other government websites.
This site contains information on retirement planning, responding to life events, and other important money-related issues. The site also contains calculators for all your financial planning needs.
Are you looking for information about investment choices available to you as you enter retirement? The Securities and Exchange Commission has made information on investment products and topics available on this website.
Contacting Social Security
The most convenient way to contact us anytime, anywhere is to visit www.socialsecurity.gov.There, you can: apply for benefits; open a my Social Security account, which you can use to review your Social Security Statement, verify your earnings, print a benefit verification letter, change your direct deposit information, request a replacement Medicare card, and get a replacement SSA-1099/1042S; obtain valuable information; find publications; get answers to frequently asked questions; and much more.
If you don’t have access to the internet, we offer many automated services by telephone, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 or at our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778, if you’re deaf or hard of hearing.
If you need to speak to a person, we can answer your calls from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. We ask for your patience during busy periods since you may experience a higher than usual rate of busy signals and longer hold times to speak to us. We look forward to serving you.
Information Subtracted from SocialSecurity.com