When to Begin Collecting Social Security

When to Begin Collecting Social Security

April 23, 2021

Deciding when to retire and begin collecting Social Security is an important life decision. For some, savings losses may dictate that you delay your retirement plans and continue working, which means postponing when you begin collecting Social Security.

Current law allows workers to begin collecting Social Security between 62 and 70 years of age. The longer you delay retirement, the higher your monthly Social Security payout will be. That payout is based on your earnings history and the age at which you begin collecting payments compared to what the government deems the normal retirement age (NRA), which depends on your birth year.11


Year Born

Normal Retirement Age

1937 or earlier



65 and 2 months


65 and 4 months


65 and 6 months


65 and 8 months


65 and 10 months




66 and 2 months


66 and 4 months


66 and 6 months


66 and 8 months


66 and 10 months

1960 or later



If you choose to begin collecting Social Security before your NRA, you may receive a reduction in monthly payments by up to 30%. Additionally, if you begin collecting early and you continue to earn income that exceeds the annual earnings limit, you will incur a penalty.

On the other hand, if you delay collecting Social Security until after your NRA, you will receive higher monthly payments. If you delay claiming benefits and were born after 1943, your primary insurance amount is increased by 2/3 of 1% per month for each month you wait after FRA until the age of 70. This is an:

  • 8% increase in benefits if you delay one year
  • 16% increase in benefits if you delay two years
  • 24% increase in benefits if you delay three years
  • 32% increase in benefits if you delay four years

Since you are only able to earn delayed retirement credits until 70, there is a cap on how much you can increase your benefits. If your full retirement age is 66, for example, you could claim benefits a maximum of four years after FRA, so that is why the maximum increase in benefits listed here is for a four-year delay.

Those with an FRA under 66 were born prior to 1943, so the primary insurance amount is increased by a different amount than 2/3 of 1% per month. The table below shows how much benefits are increased by delaying after FRA if you were born prior to 1943. (Sherry add in footnote 2 here)



11/24 of 1%



1/2 of 1%



13/24 of 1%



7/12 of 1%



5/8 of 1%



So should you retire early, late, or exactly at your NRA? That depends on your financial situation and anticipated life expectancy. If you have a strong pension or hefty savings, you may wish to delay retiring.

If you have a family history of longevity, you will receive higher payments if you delay receiving benefits. For instance, if you think that you’re unlikely to live beyond 80, you may want to begin collecting Social Security at age 62. But if you expect to live longer than 82, you might consider delaying Social Security benefits.

Whenever you decide to begin collecting Social Security, remember that it represents roughly one-third of retirees’ income,22 according to the Social Security Administration. So you should consider other savings strategies to help support you when you decide to retire.


This material was prepared by LPL Financial, LLC and is provided as a resource for information only. Neither LPL Financial, Athene Wealth Management, their affiliates, nor their representatives provide legal, tax, or accounting advice. You are urged to consult your own legal and tax advisors for advice before implementing any plan.

Securities and financial planning offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.


1 See https://www.ssa.gov/oact/progdata/nra.html.

2 How Much Does Waiting to Claim Raise My Social Security Benefits? | The Motley Fool