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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 4 months for people born in 1956 and 66 and 6 months for those born in 1957. 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 1957, you reach full retirement age in the second half of 2023 or the first half of 2024. If you put off filing for Social Security until you turn 70, you’ll get 42 months of delayed requirement credits, good for a bump of nearly 28 percent over your full retirement benefit. If the benefit you’re entitled to at FRA is $1,800 a month, at 70 it would be almost $2,299.

Here’s how that $1,800 full benefit could grow for the next wave of patient retirees:

  Year of birth     Full retirement age    Benefit at 70   
1953-1954 66 $2,376 (132% of full retirement benefit)
1955  66 and 2 months $2,352 (130.67%)
1956 66 and 4 months $2,328 (129.33%)
1957 66 and 6 months $2,304 (128%)
1958 66 and 8 months $2,280 (126.67%)
1959 66 and 10 months $2,256 (125.33%)
1960 or later 67 $2,232 (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.

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