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When can I collect Social Security?

When Can I Collect Social Security?

The earliest you can start collecting retirement benefits is age 62. You can apply once you reach 61 years and 9 months of age. 

However, Social Security reduces your payment if you start collecting before your full retirement age, or FRA. (FRA is 66 and 2 months for people born in 1955, 66 and 4 months for those born in 1956, and is gradually rising to 67 for people born in 1960 or later.) Only then do you qualify for 100 percent of your basic monthly benefit, which is calculated from your 35 highest-earning years.

Your payment will increase even more if you wait until age 70 to apply, as you’ll be accruing delayed retirement credits. (You can apply later than 70, but it doesn’t change your benefit.)

The starting age can differ for other types of Social Security benefits:

  • Spousal benefits can begin at 62, as long as the spouse on whose work record you are claiming them is receiving retirement benefits.
  • You can apply for survivor benefits on the record of a deceased spouse or ex-spouse at 60; 50 if you are disabled; or any age if you are caring for the deceased’s under-16 or disabled child.

Keep in mind

The question of when you can receive benefits is separate from a more important question: When should you claim benefits? The answer is complicated and depends on your job situation, family circumstances, and financial and physical health.

Updated December 21, 2021