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Happy birthday, Social Security!

What you need to know about your benefits

Shelley Ford //September 4, 2015//

Happy birthday, Social Security!

What you need to know about your benefits

Shelley Ford //September 4, 2015//

Eighty years ago this month, President Franklin D. Roosevelt marked the signing of the Social Security Act into law. Ever since, the program has touched the lives of almost every American and has supported our nation’s most vulnerable citizens by giving them a financial safety net.

When it comes to social security, one of the biggest considerations is when to start collecting. Should you begin when you become eligible at age 62, wait until "normal" retirement age (a function of your birth date) or consider delaying your benefits past normal retirement age?

When making your decision, it’s important to keep in mind that Americans are living longer than ever before. As you live longer, the more sense it makes to delay taking Social Security. But of course, each person's circumstances and needs are different.

Here's a look at how timing can affect the benefits you receive:

Full Benefits. The Social Security Administration determines the full retirement age (the age at which you’re entitled to full retirement benefits). Those born between 1943 and 1954 are eligible for full benefits at age 66. For those born in 1955 and thereafter, the FRA gradually rises.


Age to Receive Full Benefits and Reduction for Early Benefits

Year of Birth

Normal Retirement Age

 percent of Full Benefits

At Age 62





66 and 2 months



66 and 4 months



66 and 6 months



66 and 8 months



66 and 10 months


1960 or later





Early Benefits. You may begin receiving Social Security when you turn 62. But retiring at the age of 62 will result in a permanently reduced benefit ranging from 25 percent to 30 percent depending on your year of birth.

Delayed Benefits. Delaying retirement increases benefits. For those born in 1943 and thereafter, an additional 8 percent is credited to your permanent benefit amount for each year you wait after reaching the FRA, until you reach age 70. Past 70, no additional credit is added.

For an estimate on the monthly Social Security benefits you may qualify for, refer to your personalized Social Security Statement. You can get a copy of your statement by going to You may also wish to enlist the help of a financial professional to crunch some numbers and determine what sort of timing would best support the retirement you envision.