Retirement, Investments, & Insurance for Individuals Build your knowledge At what age should I take Social Security?

At what age should I take Social Security?

Here are key factors that come into play when you’re considering the best age to file for your Social Security retirement benefits.

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Quick takeaways:

  • You can take Social Security retirement benefits after age 62, but benefits increase each year you delay claiming them, up to age 70.
  • By creating an online Social Security account, you can check your estimated benefits at any time, and correct any errors in your work history.
  • The age you decide to take Social Security benefits is personal, and may be affected by work plans and spousal benefits, among other factors.

Planning for retirement can be a little bit like putting together a puzzle: To boost the odds of meeting your retirement goals, you’ll have to fit all the pieces together, just so.

An essential piece of the retirement puzzle is figuring out the best age to claim Social Security. A few factors influence your Social Security filing choice—and your timing may not be the same as a friend or even your spouse. Figuring out how much you might receive, the impact of claiming Social Security at different ages, and other factors such as spousal benefits and work plans can help you decide what’s best for you.

What is my estimated Social Security retirement benefit amount?

The short answer? It depends. Currently, the average monthly retirement benefit is $1,907. Your exact amount includes:

  • Credits: For full eligibility, if you were born after 1929, you must accumulate 40 credits over your lifetime (10 total years of work).  Three months of work earns you one credit, and you can earn up to four credits per year.
  • Lifetime earnings: Social Security uses the highest 35 years of earnings  to calculate your benefits.
  • Filing status: Your Social Security benefit also depends on if you’re filing for yourself, or as a spouse, divorcee, or widow.

Tip: Estimate your benefits at any time by creating a My Social Security account at

What is the earliest age I can take Social Security?

You can claim Social Security as early as age 62, but benefits decrease permanently if you do. (More on that below.) Waiting until you reach your full retirement age (FRA, between ages 66 and 67 depending on the year you were born) is something to consider.

If you were born in … Your full retirement age (FRA) is …
1943-1954 66
1955 66 and two months
1956 66 and four months
1957 66 and six months
1958 66 and eight months
1959 66 and 10 months
1960 or later 67

How does the age I take Social Security affect my benefit amount?

While the full retirement age is 67 for many, if you delay until age 70 you’ll also reap a benefits reward, referred to as delayed retirement credits. Generally, benefits increase 8% each year until you reach age 70. There’s no financial benefit to waiting past age 70 to take Social Security.

Retirement age % benefits reduction or increase Sample monthly benefit
62 -30% $1050
67 0 $1500
70 +24% $1860

How do my health and work plans affect my Social Security filing?

You don’t know how long your retirement will be. Family history, personal health, work plans, and average life expectancy all come into play.

One tool that some people find useful? A breakeven calculator, which helps you compare how taking or delaying benefits plays out. (Search the internet for “breakeven Social Security calculator.”)

If you’re considering working, know that you can still be employed and file for Social Security. Some or all Social Security benefits can be withheld depending on how much you earn and how old you are; this is called an earnings test. (Once you reach full retirement age, your benefits are increased permanently.) If your earnings test withholding exceeds your full Social Security benefit, the entire benefit will be withheld until you turn the full retirement age. Find an earnings test calculator at

Will a partner or I receive spousal, divorced spouse, or survivor benefits?

If you have a partner, their filing age may not be the same as yours, but there may be an impact to your retirement income. Spouses have two options for Social Security: They can claim benefits based on their earnings, or collect spousal benefits based on 50% of their spouse’s Social Security benefit, whichever is higher. In addition, a spouse doesn’t have to have worked to claim this benefit; they just must be at least 62 years old or caring for a child younger than 16 or a disabled child of any age. The spousal benefit calculator on can help.

The best age for you to claim Social Security may also depend on whether you or a partner is divorced, widowed, or caring for a dependent. What do other benefits for Social Security look like?

What are my other retirement income sources and budget needs?

By design, Social Security is intended to replace just a portion of your pre-retirement income, and work with other retirement savings to last the entirety of your post-work life. Your potential Social Security benefits and filing age must be balanced with what you know are guaranteed sources of income—a pension plan, annuities, or work income—along with other sources such as an IRA, 401(k) or 403(b), or Roth IRA.

Income sources must also be balanced with what you envision as your budget throughout retirement. Are you carrying debt into your post-work years? Do you want to account for travel? Have you planned for health care—estimated by some to cost a 65-year-old couple as much as $413,000?

How does my Social Security filing age affect my taxes?

Social Security benefits are taxable at the federal level and by some states. How much depends on both your filing status and current income. Check with your tax advisor for more insight. In addition, if you’re retiring outside of the U.S., you won’t be subject to dual taxation if you live in one of 30 designated countries. There may be domestic tax, benefits transfer, or currency exchange implications. Use the Payments Abroad screening tool at

What’s next?

Catch-up contributions can help you make up some retirement savings gaps if you’re over age 55. How much more can you save in your retirement accounts? Log in to check.