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How much does early retirement reduce Social Security benefits?

It depends on the year you were born and how long until you reach full retirement age, abbreviated as FRA. That's the age at which you would collect 100 percent of the monthly benefit payment Social Security calculates from your lifetime earnings history.

Retirement benefits are designed so that you get the full benefit if you wait until full retirement age, now 66 and gradually rising to 67 over the next several years. If you file early, Social Security reduces the monthly payment by 5/9 of 1 percent for each month before full retirement age, up to 36 months, and 5/12 of 1 percent for each additional month.

Suppose you will turn 62, the earliest age to claim retirement benefits, in 2020. For people born in 1958, full retirement age is 66 years 8 months.

Filing at 62, 56 months early, permanently reduces your monthly benefit by 28.3 percent. If you would have been entitled to $1,000 a month at full retirement age, you will get about $716 if you start benefits when you turn 62.

Here's what the reduction would be in subsequent years.

  • Age 63: 23.3 percent
  • Age 64: 17.8 percent
  • Age 65: 11.1 percent
  • Age 66: 4.4 percent

For people born in 1960 or later, the full retirement age will be 67 and the reduction for claiming early will be as follows:

  • Age 62: 30 percent
  • Age 63: 25 percent
  • Age 64: 20 percent
  • Age 65: 13.3 percent
  • Age 66: 6.7 percent

Keep in mind

  • The figures above represent the reduction if you start benefits as soon as possible upon reaching the noted age. The benefit decrease is calculated based on months, not years, and each month that you wait beyond your birthday lessens the reduction.
  • If you claim benefits early but continue working, your monthly payment could be cut further, depending on your income. However, that reduction is not permanent.

Published February 20, 2020

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