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

How to Maximize Your Social Security Benefit

En español  | 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 currently 66 and is gradually increasing to 67 for people born in 1960 or after.) 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.

For example, if you were born in 1954, you reach full retirement age in 2020. If you put off filing for Social Security until you turn 70 in 2024, you’ll get 48 months of delayed requirement credits, good for a 32 percent bump over your full retirement benefit. If the benefit you’re entitled to at FRA is $1,500 a month, at 70 you’d get $1,980 a month.

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

1950-1954                  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.

Updated September 2, 2020

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