Social Security Reduction for Early Start

If you begin taking retirement benefits before your full retirement age, the benefit is permanently reduced.

People who qualify for social security retirement benefits can begin receiving those benefits in the month after they reach age 62, or any month after that, even though they won’t reach full retirement age for a few more years. If you choose to receive retirement benefits before your full retirement age, the amount of the benefit will be reduced. To receive the full benefit, you have to wait until your full retirement age to begin receiving benefits. Your full retirement age depends on when you were born, as explained here.

If you decide to start your benefits early, the reduction will be 5/9 of 1% for every month, up to 36 months early. That works out to 6.67% per year.

People born after 1937 have a normal retirement age of more than 65 years (see the table on this page). They’re still allowed to start their benefit at age 62, so they can have a benefit that starts more than 36 months early. In this case, each additional month will reduce the benefit by 5/12 of 1%, which works out to 5% per year. The maximum number of months early would be 60 (five years), but this applies only to people born after 1959. If you were born before 1960, your maximum number of months of early benefits is smaller. The following table provides your benefit at a percentage of the regular benefit (known as your primary insurance amount, or PIA) depending on the number of months you retire early.

Early Retirement Percentage
Months early Benefit percentage
6 96.67
12 93.33
18 90.00
24 86.67
30 83.33
36 80
42 77.5
48 75
54 72.5
60 70

We used six-month increments for convenience. The benefit percentage will be determined by the exact number of months (but not fractions of months).

Example: Suppose your normal benefit works out to $1,425 per month. You decide to begin receiving benefits 7 months early. Your benefit percentage will be 96.11% (100% reduced by 7 times 5/9 of 1%). Your monthly benefit will be $1,370 (96.11% of $1,425).

You can also receive a permanent increase in your benefit by deciding to delay the start of your social security retirement payments, as explained on this page.

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