The earliest you can apply is four months before the month you want your benefits to start, and the earliest your benefits can start is your first full month as a 62-year-old. For example, if you turn 62 in June, your benefits can begin in July, and you can apply as early as March.
There is an exception: If you were born on the first or second day of a month, you can begin collecting your benefits in that month.
For example, if you were born on Oct. 1 or 2, 1959, Social Security considers you to be 62 as of Sept. 30 or Oct. 1, 2021. Your benefits will start in October 2021; you can apply for benefits in June.
But if you were born between Oct. 3 and 31, your first full month at 62 is November. If you want to start your benefits as soon as possible, you can apply in July.
There is a one-month lag in the benefit payment. If your birthday is Oct. 1 or 2, you qualify for an October benefit and it will be paid in November. If you were born later in October, your first benefit month is November and you will be paid in December.
Keep in mind
By filing at 62, or any time before you reach full retirement age, you forfeit a portion of your monthly benefit. If you were born in 1960 or later, for instance, filing at 62 could reduce your monthly payment by as much as 30 percent. AARP’s Social Security Benefits Calculator can provide more details on how filing early reduces benefits.
Updated May 5, 2021
Find the answers to the most common Social Security questions such as when to claim, how to maximize your retirement benefits and more.