The 1983 Amendments phased in a gradual increase in the age for collecting full Social Security retirement benefits. The retirement age is increasing 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 7 years to age 84, for women reaching age 65, their average life expectancy has increased nearly 7 years to age 86.