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When Can I Start Collecting Social Security?

Updated on September 7, 2012
When should I start collecting Social Security?
When should I start collecting Social Security? | Source


When I was younger (less than 45), I never thought seriously about retirement. Now that I'm past 45 years of age, retirement doesn't seem so far.

I know I have a couple of 401K accounts out there, and that I might have a few dollars coming in from social security. Regardless, when I can start collecting social security, and how much I might get might help determine, when I should retire.

I'm sure a few of you baby boomers out there have the same question. Hopefully, by answering my question, I'm helping answer yours.

When Can I Collect Maximum Social Security

In one of's page, they have a table showing the full retirement age. Depending on year of birth, your full retirement age varies. I show the table below for your convenience.

Full Retirement Age by Year of Birth
Full Retirement Age by Year of Birth | Source

To use the above table, you just need to know the year you were born, then look it up on the first column, then go across to the next column to get your full retirement age.

I was born after 1960, so based on this table, my full retirement age is 67.

When Is the Earliest I Can Collect?

Based on current rules, the earliest I can start collecting social security is 62. At this age, and based on the table above, my retirement benefits would be reduced by a whopping 30%.

The amount figured is based on life expectancy. According to says, the total benefits if you retire early compared to retirement at full age is the same. Using their life expectancy calculator, they expect me to live until I'm about 82 years old. If I actually make it to 62, they expect me to live until 84 years of age.

So if I retire early (62 years old), I could enjoy another 22 year of life--that is if I stay healthy. However, If I'm not able to stay healthy, it could be another 22 years of misery. I'm hoping for healthy, so I guess I need to make sure I continue to exercise and eat healthy.

Should I Elect to Collect Early?

Right now, I'm thinking that I should retire when I'm 62. But is it really worth retiring early?

Here are some questions which could help determine this. I'm sure you have similar questions, and more.

  • What are my existing financial obligations?
  • What other source of income will I have (401Ks, IRAs, savings, etc.)?
  • Will I need to do part time work to help supplement social security and my other retirement holdings?
  • Can I even do part time work?
  • Will I have something to keep me busy if I retire?
  • Does waiting just another 5 years to full retirement really matter?

I'm not going to answer these questions on this article, but it gives you an idea of what things you need to consider before taking an early retirement plunge.

How Early Should You File To Collect Social Security?

Regardless of what age I decide to collect social security, In order to get the money on time for retirement, I need to file early enough so that by the time I stop working, the checks start rolling in.

When does the social security administration suggest you file for retirement? Finding the answer to this question wasn't easy, but their FAQ article "How soon can I apply for retirement benefits?" indicates that it takes the Social Security administration 3 months to get your benefits processed.

So if you plan on retiring when you are 62, you want to apply 3 months before you turn 62. This way the checks start rolling in upon your retirement age.


Everyday we get old. Sooner or later most of us working folks have to decide when to retire. Based on my year of birth, and the current rules, I can retire as early as 62 years of age. My full retirement age is 67.

Your financial situation really generally dictates how early you can retire. For some 62, for others 67. In some cases, retirement doesn't mean you stop working.


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