We’re often asked, “What’s the best age to start receiving retirement benefits?” The answer is: There’s not a single “best age” for everyone.

The most important thing is to make an in- formed decision. Base your decision about when to apply for benefits on your individual and family circumstances.

Would it be better for you to start getting benefits early with a smaller monthly amount for more years, or wait for a larger monthly payment over a shorter time frame? The answer is personal and depends on several factors, such as your current cash needs, your current health, and your family longevity. You

should also consider plans to work in retirement and other sources of retirement income. Most importantly, study your future financial needs and obligations, and calculate your future Social Security benefit.

We encourage you to weigh all the facts carefully before making the crucial decision about when to begin receiving Social Security benefits. This decision affects the monthly benefit you will receive for the rest of your life, and may affect benefit protection for your survivors.

Retirement portal

Our new retirement portal at www.ssa.gov is more user-friendly and easier to navigate, whether you’re ready to learn about, apply for, or manage your retirement benefits.

The redesigned portal will make it easier for you to find and read about retirement benefits, with fewer pages and clearer information.

We condensed and rewrote most of the pages to make them easier to understand.

The portal is compatible for use on mobile devices so you can learn and do what you want from wherever you want.

Our retirement webpage has information including:


• Retirement publications

• Benefit calculators

• Retirement benefits estimates

• Full retirement-age information

• Spouse benefits

When to start receiving retirement benefits:

Consider life expectancy, your full retirement age, and more

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 in- creases 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 greater the age at which you start receiving benefits, the higher the monthly benefit amount you receive.

Retirement may last 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.

About one out of seven 65-year-olds will live until at least age 95. 

For more information on life expectancy, go to www.ssa.gov/planners/lifeexpectancy.html.

Rules that can affect your survivor 

If you're married, and die before your spouse, your spouse 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?

You can get Social Security retirement or survivors benefits and work at the same time. 

However, there is a limit to how much you can earn and still receive benefits. 

If you are younger than full retirement age and earn more than the yearly earnings limit, we may reduce your benefit amount. 

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. 

Each year, we review the records for all Social Security recipients who work. 

If your latest year of earnings is one of your highest years, we refigure your benefits and pay you any increase due. 

Use the online benefits calculators

Everyone's finances are different. Social Security has online benefits calculators that can provide immediate and accurate retirement benefit estimates to help you plan for your retirement. 

If you have a my Social Security account, you can get an estimate of your personal retirement benefits and see the effects of different age scenarios.

If you don't have a my Social Security account, create one at www.ssa.gov/myaccount, or you can use our online Retirement Estimator at www.ssa.gov/estimator

Ready to apply? Applying online is easiest

The easiest way to apply for Social Security retirement benefits is to go online at www.ssa.gov.

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. 

How your benefit is calculated

Many people wonder how we figure their Social Security retirement benefit.

We base Social Security benefits on your lifetime earnings. We adjust or "index" your actual earnings to account for changes in average wages since the year the earnings were received.

Then, Social Security calculates your average indexed monthly earnings during the 35 years in which you earned the most.

We apply a formula to these earnings and arrive at your basic benefit, or "primary insurance amount."

This is how much you would receive at your full retirement age — 65 or older, depending on your date of birth.

Even if you aren't retirement age, you can plan for retirement now. Workers age 18 or older can also go online, create a personal account, and review their Social Security Statement.

Some factors that can affect the amount of your retirement benefit: 

  • You can choose to get benefits before your full retirement age. You can begin to receive Social Security benefits as early as age 62, but at a reduced rate.
  • You're eligible for cost-of-living benefit increases starting with the year you become age 62 — even if you don't get benefits until your full retirement age or even age 70.
  • You delay your retirement past your full retirement age. We increase your Social Security benefits incrementally each month that you delay receiving benefits after your full retirement age until you reach age 70.
  • You're a government worker with a pension. If you also get, or are eligible for, a retirement or disability pension from work for which you didn't have to pay Social Security taxes, we apply.a different formula to your average indexed monthly earnings.