Dear Savvy Senior: How much does your claiming age affect your Social Security benefits, and what are the most popular ages people start taking their retirement benefits? — Nearing Retirement
Dear Nearing: You can sign up for Social Security at any time after age 62. However, your monthly payments will be larger for each month you delay claiming them up until age 70. This adds up to around 6% to 8% higher payments every year you delay.
To get a breakdown on exactly how much your claiming age affects your benefits, visit Social Security’s Retirement Age Calculator at SSA.gov/benefits/retirement/planner/ageincrease.html. This tool provides your official full retirement age, or FRA — which is between 66 and 67, depending on your birth year — and shows how much your benefits will be reduced by taking early payments or increased by delaying them.
In the meantime, here’s the rundown of when most people start receiving retirement benefits (according to 2019 SSA statistics), and how signing up at each age affects your payout.
>> Age 62: This is the earliest you can sign up for Social Security and the most popular age. Around 34% of women and 31% of men signed up for Social Security at 62. But if you sign up at this age, you’ll get 25% smaller Social Security payments if your FRA is 66, and 30% lower payments if your FRA is 67.
>> Age 63: About 7% of all workers start drawing their benefits at this age. Monthly payments are reduced if you sign up at age 63, but by less than if you claim at 62. A worker with a FRA of 66 will get a 20% pay cut by signing up at 63. And workers with a FRA of 67 will get 25% less.
>> Age 64: Around 8% of women and about 7% of men claim benefits at 64. Social Security payments are reduced by 13.3% for those with a FRA of 66, and 20% for people whose FRA is 67.
>> Age 65: This used to be FRA for people born before 1938, but it’s still enrollment age for Medicare. Around 12% of workers begin their retirement benefits at 65. By starting at this age, you’ll see your monthly payments reduced by 6.7% if your FRA is 66, and by 13.3% if it’s 67.
>> Age 66: This is FRA for people born between 1943 and 1954. If you fit into this age group, you’re eligible to claim unreduced Social Security benefits. Nearly 29% of men and 22% of women sign up for benefits at 66. But if your FRA is 67, you’ll get a 6.7% pay cut if you sign up here.
>> Age 67: People born in 1960 or later will be able to claim unreduced Social Security payments starting at age 67. Baby boomers born before 1955 will get an 8% increase if they wait to claim their benefits at 67. Fewer than 4% of men and 3% of women start their benefits at this age.
>> Age 68: Only about 2% of workers start claiming their retirement benefits at 68. Those with a FRA of 66 will get 16% more if they claim Social Security payments at age 68, while those with a FRA of 67 will get 8% increase.
>> Age 69: Fewer than 2% of workers start claiming their retirement benefits at this age. Those with a FRA of 66 will get a 24% boost in their benefit by waiting to 69, while those with a FRA of 67 will increase their benefits by 16%.
>> Age 70 and older: Waiting to age 70 offers the biggest possible payout. Nearly 9% of women and 6% of men hold out until this age. Those with a FRA of 66 can increase their benefits by 32%, while those with a FRA of 67 will get a 24% increase. After age 70 there’s no additional increase for further delaying your payments.
Jim Miller is a contributor to NBC-TV’s “Today” program and author of “The Savvy Senior.” Send your questions to Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070; or visit savvysenior.org.