Choosing when to start receiving your Social Security retirement benefits is an important decision that affects your monthly benefit amount for the rest of your life.
Your monthly retirement benefit will be higher if you delay claiming it
You can start receiving your retirement benefit as early as age 62, or as late as age 70. If you claim it early (before your full retirement age), your monthly amount will be reduced. On the other hand, if you delay claiming your benefit, your monthly amount will be increased for each month of delay. These adjustments are permanent for the rest of your life.
The increases from delaying your benefit can be large. For example, a worker with a $1,000 benefit at her full retirement age of 66 would receive $750 a month if she starts her benefit at age 62, or $1,320 a month if she delays until age 70. Married couples have two lives to plan for. If you are the higher earner, delaying starting your retirement benefit means higher monthly benefits for the rest of your life and higher survivor protection for your spouse, if you die first.
Other factors to consider
Deciding when to start receiving your retirement benefit is a highly personal decision, based on many factors that may be unique to each individual. For example, in addition to the monthly benefit amount, you may want to consider personal and family circumstances, including whether you are working or plan to work, current and future financial resources and obligations, and current and anticipated health and longevity.
See When to Start Receiving Retirement Benefits for more information to consider as you make this important decision.
To view retirement benefit estimates based on your own actual earnings record, you can use our Retirement Estimator or create a my Social Security account and get your own personal Social Security Statement, including an estimate of your benefits at different ages.
You can also visit Retirement Planner to find information about your full retirement age, benefit calculators, and many additional factors you may want to consider.