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When should I file to get the maximum Social Security benefit?

You receive the highest benefit payable on your own record if you start collecting Social Security at age 70. 

Once you reach your full retirement age, or FRA, you can claim 100 percent of the benefit calculated from your lifetime earnings. (Full retirement age is 66 and 2 months for people born in 1955 and 66 and 4 months for those born in 1956. It will incrementally increase to 67 over the next few years.) But if you hold off a few years, you can earn delayed retirement credits that increase your eventual benefit — by two-thirds of 1 percent for each month you wait.

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For example, if you were born in 1956, you reach full retirement age in 2022 (or in the first four months of 2023). If you put off filing for Social Security until you turn 70, you’ll get 44 months of delayed requirement credits, good for a bump of more than 29 percent over your full retirement benefit. If the benefit you’re entitled to at FRA is $1,500 a month, at 70 it would be about $1,940.

Here’s how that $1,500 full benefit could grow for the next wave of patient retirees: 

Year of birth            Full retirement age             Benefit at 70

1952-1954                  66                                              $1,980 (132% of full retirement benefit)

1955                            66 and 2 months                    $1,960 (130.67%)

1956                            66 and 4 months                    $1,940 (129.33%)

1957                            66 and 6 months                    $1,920 (128%)

1958                            66 and 8 months                    $1,900 (126.67%)

1959                            66 and 10 months                  $1,880 (125.33%)

1960 or later              67                                              $1,860 (124%)

Keep in mind

You can claim benefits later than 70, but there’s no financial reason to do so. Delayed retirement credits stop, and your payment tops out, at that age.

How to Maximize Your Social Security Benefit