Options for Social Security Benefits and Retirement

Retiring At Full Retirement Age- To retire, you must have earned 40 credits. See the table below to determine your full retirement age.

Year of Birth* Full Retirement Age
1937 or earlier 65
1938 65 and 2 months
1939 65 and 4 months
1940 65 and 6 months
1941 65 and 8 months
1942 65 and 10 months
1943-1954 66
1955 66 and 2 months
1956 66 and 4 months
1957 66 and 6 months
1958 66 and 8 months
1959 66 and 10 months
1960 or later 67

Retiring Early – If you’ve earned 40 credits, you can start receiving Social Security benefits at 62 or at any month between 62 and full retirement age. However, your benefits will be permanently reduced based on the number of months you receive benefits before you reach full retirement age. If you retire before your full retirement age of 65, your benefits will be reduced:

Percentage Age
30% 62
25% 63
20% 64

If your full retirement age is 66, they will be reduced:

Percentage Age
25% 62
20% 63
13.3% 64
6.7% 65

Receiving Retirement Benefits While You Work—You can work while receiving monthly benefits. And it could mean a higher benefit that can be important to you later in your life and increase the future benefits your family and survivors could receive.

SSA will review your record each year to see whether the additional earnings would increase your monthly benefit. If there’s an increase, SSA will send you a notice of your new benefit amount. Earnings in or after the month you reach full retirement age won't reduce your Social Security benefits. However, if you receive benefits before reaching your full retirement age, your benefit amount will be reduced.

  • In the year you reach full retirement age, $1 in benefits will be deducted for each $3 you earn above the annual limit ($37,680 in 2011) until the month you reach full retirement age. After that, your benefits will not be reduced, no matter how much you earn.
  • In the years before you reach full retirement age, $1 in benefits will be deducted for each $2 you earn above the limit ($14,160 in 2011).

If you lose benefits because of work, your benefit will be increased later to account for the months you didn’t receive a benefit before reaching full retirement age.

 Delaying Retirement- You may decide to continue working beyond your full retirement age without choosing to receive benefits. If so, your benefit will be increased by a certain percentage for each month you don’t receive benefits between your full retirement age and age 70. This table shows the rate your benefits increase if you delay retiring.

Year Of Birth Yearly Increase Rate
1930 4.5%
1931 - 1932 5.0%
1933 - 1934 5.5%
1935 – 1936 6.0%
1937 – 1938 6.5%
1939 – 1940 7.0%
1941 – 1942 7.5%
1943 or later 8.0%
Is this legal advice?

This site offers legal information, not legal advice.  We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options.  However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.  The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site.  In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – www.peoples-law.org. © Maryland State Law Library, 2014.”

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