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SOCIAL SECURITY

Fact Sheet

Social Security

Increase in Retirement Age

The Social Security Amendments of 1983 (H.R. 1900, Public Law 98-21) contained two provisions which may have an impact on when an individual decides to retire. The two provisions are an increase in the retirement age that can first affect individuals retiring in 2000 and an increase in the delayed retirement credit for those who work beyond full retirement age.

Increase in Retirement Age

  • For persons born in 1938 or later, their Social Security benefit may be affected by a provision that raises the age at which full Social Security benefits are payable.
  • The age for collecting full Social Security retirement benefits will gradually increase from 65 to 67 over a 22-year period beginning in 2000 for those retiring at 62.
  • The earliest a person can start receiving reduced Social Security retirement benefits will remain age 62.
Increase in Age for Receiving Full Social Security Benefits

 

Year of Birth

Full Retirement Age

1937 or earlier

65

1938

65 and 2 months

1939

65 and 4 months

1940

65 and 6 months

1941

65 and 8 months

1942

65 and 10 months

1943 1954

66

1955

66 and 2 months

1956

66 and 4 months

1957

66 and 6 months

1958

66 and 8 months

1959

66 and 10 months

1960 and later

67

  • Background
    • The 1983 Amendments phased in a gradual increase in the age for collecting full Social Security retirement benefits. The retirement age will increase from 65 to 67 over a 22-year period, with an 11-year hiatus at which the retirement age will remain at 66.
    • The original Social Security Act of 1935 set the minimum age for receiving full retirement benefits at 65.
    • Congress cited improvements in the health of older people and increases in average life expectancy as primary reasons for increasing the normal retirement age.
    • Since the program first began paying monthly Social Security benefits in 1940 the average life expectancy for men reaching age 65 has increased nearly 4 years to age 81; for women reaching age 65, their average life expectancy has increased nearly 6 years to age 84.
    • The average age for men retiring in 1998 was 64. The average age for women retiring in 1998 was 64. In 1998, nearly 69% of men and women retired and started taking Social Security benefits before age 65.

The earliest a person can start receiving Social Security retirement benefits will remain age 62.

  • Social Security benefits are reduced for each month a person receives benefits before full retirement age.
    • For persons whose full retirement age is 65, a retirement benefit is reduced by 5/9 of 1% for each month of benefits prior to full retirement age. 
  • As the age for collecting full Social Security benefits increases, persons who retire at age 62 will see a greater reduction in their Social Security benefits.
    • For persons whose full retirement age is age 65 and 2 months or later, a retirement benefit will be reduced by 5/9 of 1% for each month up to the first 36 months of benefits before full retirement age, plus 5/12 of 1% for each month of benefits in excess of 36 prior to full retirement age.
    • Examples:
      • Social Security benefits are reduced by 20% for a person who retires at 62 whose full retirement age is 65 (born 1937 or earlier).
      • Social Security benefits will be reduced by 205/6% for a person whose full retirement age is 65 and 2 months (retires at 62 in 2000).
      • Social Security benefits will be reduced by 25% for a person who retires at 62 whose full retirement age is 66 (born 1943-1954).
      • Social Security benefits will be reduced by 30% for a person who retires at 62 whose full retirement age is 67 (born in 1960 or later).
  • Background
    • The Social Security Amendments of 1956 lowered the minimum age for retirement benefits to 62 for women.
    • The Social Security Amendments of 1961 extended the early retirement provision to men.

The new Social Security Statement:

  • Tells a person their full retirement age and
  • Provides a retirement benefit estimate for age 62, full retirement age, and age 70.
  • The age 62 benefit estimate incorporates the reduction for early retirement.
  • The age 70 benefit estimate incorporates delayed retirement credits.

 

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