The Social Security Act has established numerous programs which provide for the material needs of individuals and families, protect aged and disabled persons against the expenses of illnesses that could otherwise exhaust their savings, keep families together, and give children the opportunity to grow up in health and security.

Congress passed the Social Security Act in 1935 and the retirement benefits program went into effect on January 1, 1937. The law has been amended many times since its original enactment.

There have been many changes in Social Security and the United States since 1935. First, in 1935 the life expectancy was only age 60, while today it is 78. Therefore in 1935 most people would not have lived long enough to collect Social Security retirement benefits. While today, many retirees are concerned they will outlive their retirement savings.

In 1935 Social Security was designed to supplement a retiree’s retirement income. Today, Social Security provides about 40% of the average retiree’s income.

In 1935, the worker/retiree ratio was about 160:1. Today it is about 3:1. When the program began, Social Security paid out about $35 million in benefits annually. Today it pays out over $675 billion annually.

Finally, in 1935, the poverty rate for seniors exceeded 50%. Today the poverty rate for Seniors is less than 9.5%.

Approximately 35% of Americans over the age of 65 rely almost entirely on Social Security payments alone.

See also: Annuities and Social Security: What retirees need to know

1. In general, what requirements must be met to qualify a person for retirement benefits? 

An individual is entitled to a retirement benefit if he or she: (1) is fully insured, (2) is at least age 62 throughout the first month of entitlement, and (3) has filed an application for retirement benefits.

2. Must a person be fully insured to qualify for retirement benefits? 

Yes. (But a small monthly benefit is payable to some men who became age 72 before 1972 and some women who became age 72 before 1970).

3. What is the earliest age at which a person can start to receive retirement benefits?

Age 62. A retired worker who is fully insured can elect to start receiving a reduced benefit at any time between ages 62 and full retirement age (which is gradually increasing from 65 to 67; see below) when he would receive the full benefit rate. A person is not required to be completely retired to receive retirement benefits. A person is considered “retired” if the retirement test is met.

The retirement age when unreduced benefits are available (previously age 65) increased by two months per year for workers reaching age 62 in 2000-2005. It is age 66 for workers reaching age 62 in 2006-2016. It will increase again by two months per year for workers reaching age 62 in 2017-2022. Finally, the retirement age will be age 67 for workers reaching age 62 after 2022 (i.e., reaching age 67 in 2027). 

The full retirement age for spouse’s benefits (also previously age 65) moves upward in exactly the same way as that for workers. The full retirement age for widow(er)’s benefits also rises but in a slightly different manner (beginning for widow(er)s who attain age 60 in 2000 and reaching a full retirement age of 67 in 2029).

Reduced benefits will continue to be available at age 62, but the reduction factors are revised so that there is a further reduction of up to a maximum of 30% for workers entitled at age 62 after the retirement age is increased to age 67 (rather than only 20% for entitlement at age 62 under previous law).

4. Must a person file an application for retirement benefits? 

Yes. A person can file an application within three months before the first month in which he becomes entitled to benefits. The earliest date for filing would be three months before the month of attaining age 62.

As evidence of age, a claimant must ordinarily submit one or more of the following: birth certificate; church record of birth or baptism; Census Bureau notification of registration of birth; hospital birth record; physician’s birth record; family Bible; naturalization record; immigration record; military record; passport; school record; vaccination record; insurance policy; labor union or fraternal record; marriage record; other evidence of probative value.

If a person is receiving Social Security disability benefits for the month before the month he reaches full retirement age, no application is required; the disability benefit ends and the retirement benefit begins automatically. 

5. What is the amount of a retirement benefit? 

A retirement benefit that starts at full retirement age (see Q 31) equals the worker’s Primary Insurance Amount (PIA). But a worker who elects to have benefits start before full retirement age will receive a monthly benefit equal to only a percentage of the PIA. The PIA will be reduced by 5/9 of 1% for each of the first 36 months the worker is under full retirement age when payments commence and by 5/12 of 1% for each such month in excess of 36. 

As a general rule, a person taking reduced retirement benefits before full retirement age will continue to receive a reduced rate after normal retirement age.

An individual can obtain higher retirement benefits by working past full retirement age.

6. What is the first month for which a retired person receives a retirement benefit? 

A monthly benefit is available to a retired worker when he reaches age 62, provided he is fully insured.

Workers and their spouses (including divorced spouses) do not receive retirement benefits for a month unless they meet the requirements for entitlement throughout the month. The major effect of this provision is to postpone, in the vast majority of cases, entitlement to retirement benefits for persons who claim benefits in the month in which they reach age 62 to the next month. Only in the case of a person who attains age 62 on the first or second day of a month can benefits be paid for the month of attainment of age 62. Note that a person attains his age on the day preceding the anniversary of his birth. For example, if an individual was born on May 2, 1951, he is considered 62 years old on May 1, 2013.

Most entitlement requirements (other than the entitlement of the worker) affecting young spouses or children of retired or disabled workers are deemed to have occurred as of the first of the month in which they occurred. However, in the case of a child who is born in or after the first month of entitlement of a retired or disabled worker, benefits are not payable for the month of birth (unless born on the first day of the month).

Retroactive benefits are usually prohibited if permanently reduced benefits (as compared with what would be payable for the month the application is filed) would occur in the initial month of eligibility. However, retroactive benefits may be applied for if: (1) with respect to widow(er)’s benefits, the application is for benefits for the month of death of the worker, if filed for in the next month, and (2) retroactive benefits for any month before attaining age 60 are applied for by a disabled widow(er) or disabled surviving divorced spouse.

7. Can a person receive retirement benefits regardless of the amount of his wealth or the amount of his retirement income? 

Yes, a person is entitled to retirement benefits regardless of how wealthy he is. Also, the amount of retirement income a person receives (e.g. dividends, interest, rents, etc.) is immaterial. A person is subject to loss of benefits only because of excess earnings arising from his personal services.

8. Can a person lose retirement benefits by working? 

Yes, a person can lose some or all monthly benefits if she is under the full retirement age (see Q 31) for all of 2014 and his or her earnings for the year exceed $15,480. A person may lose benefits if she reaches full retirement age in 2014 and if she earns over $41,400, but only those earnings earned before the month he or she reaches full retirement age count towards the $41,400 limit. The amount of loss depends on the amount of earnings in excess of these earnings limits. In no case will a person lose benefits for earnings earned after reaching full retirement age. For the initial year of retirement of a person who is under the full retirement age for all of 2014, the monthly earnings limit is $1,290. For purposes of this test, “earnings” include not only earnings in covered employment, but also earnings in noncovered employment in theUnited States. As to noncovered employment outside theUnited States, benefits are lost for any month before reaching full retirement age when so employed for more than 45 hours, regardless of the amount of earnings.

The dollar exempt amounts mentioned above will be increased automatically after 2014 as wage levels rise.

9. When do retirement benefits end?

At the worker’s death. No retirement benefit is paid for the month of death.

10. Can a husband and wife both receive retirement benefits?

Yes. If each is entitled to receive benefits based on his or her own earnings record, each can receive retirement benefits independently of the other’s benefits. However, a woman or man who is entitled to a retirement benefit and a spouse’s benefit cannot receive both in full.

 

11. Is the spouse of a retired or disabled worker entitled to benefits? 

An individual is entitled to spouse’s benefits on a worker’s Social Security record if:

  • The worker is entitled to retirement or disability benefits; and
  • The individual has filed an application for spouse’s benefits; and
  • The spouse is not entitled to a retirement or disability benefit based on a primary insurance amount equal to or larger than one-half of the worker’s primary insurance amount; and
  • The spouse is either age 62 or over, or has in their care a child under age 16, or disabled, who is entitled to benefits on the worker’s Social Security record.

The spouse of a worker must also meet one of the following conditions: (1) the spouse must have been married to the worker for at least one year just before filing an application for benefits; (2) the spouse must be the natural mother or father of the worker’s biological child; (3) the spouse was entitled or potentially entitled to spouse’s, widow(er)’s, parent’s, or childhood disability benefits in the month before the month of marriage to the worker; or (4) the spouse was entitled or potentially entitled to a widow(er)’s, parent’s, or child’s (over 18) annuity under the Railroad Retirement Act in the month before the month of marriage to the worker. A spouse is “potentially entitled” if he or she meets all the requirements for entitlement other than the filing of an application and attaining the required age.

12. What is meant by having a child “in care”? 

Having a child in care is a basic requirement for spouse’s benefits when the spouse is under age 62 and for mother’s and father’s benefits. “In care” means that the mother or father: (1) exercises parental control and responsibility for the welfare and care of a child under age 16 or mentally incompetent child age 16 or over, or (2) performs personal services for a disabled mentally competent child age 16 or over.

13. Is the divorced spouse of a retired or disabled worker entitled to a spouse’s benefits? 

The spouse is entitled to a divorced spouse’s benefit on the worker’s Social Security record if: (1) the worker is entitled to retirement or disability benefits, (2) the spouse has filed an application for divorced spouse’s benefits, (3) the spouse is not entitled to a retirement or disability benefit based on a primary insurance amount that equals or exceeds one-half the worker’s primary insurance amount, (4) the spouse is age 62 or over, (5) the spouse is not married, and (6) the spouse was married to the worker for at least 10 years before the date the divorce became final.

A divorced spouse who is age 62 or over and who has been divorced for at least two years is able to receive benefits based on the earnings of a former spouse who is eligible for retirement benefits, regardless of whether the former spouse has retired or applied for benefits. This two-year waiting period for independent entitlement to divorced spouse’s benefits is waived if the worker was entitled to benefits prior to the divorce. A spouse whose divorce took place after the couple had begun to receive retirement benefits, and whose former spouse (the worker) returned to work after the divorce (thus causing a suspension of benefits), will not lose benefits on which he or she had come to depend.

14. What is the amount of a spouse’s benefit? 

If the spouse of a retired or disabled worker is caring for the worker’s child under age 16 or disabled child, the monthly benefit equals half of the worker’s PIA, regardless of his age. If the spouse is not caring for a child, monthly benefits starting at full retirement age likewise equal half of the worker’s PIA; but if the spouse chooses to start receiving benefits at or after age 62, but before full retirement age, the benefit is reduced.

If the spouse chooses to receive, and is paid, a reduced spouse’s benefit for months before full retirement age, the spouse is not entitled to the full spouse’s benefit rate upon reaching full retirement age. A reduced benefit rate is payable for as long as the spouse remains entitled to spouse’s benefits.

A spouse will not always receive a spouse’s full benefit; under the following circumstances a spouse will receive a smaller amount:

(1)   If the total amount of monthly benefits payable on the worker’s Social Security account exceeds the Maximum Family Benefit, all benefits (except the worker’s benefit) will be reduced proportionately to bring the total within the family maximum limit. 

(2)   If a spouse who is not caring for a child elects to start receiving a spouse’s benefit at age 62 (or at any time between age 62 and full retirement age), the benefit will be reduced by 25/36 of 1% for each of the first 36 months that the spouse is under full retirement age when benefits commence, and by 5/12 of 1% for each such month in excess of 36.

(3)   If the spouse is entitled to a retirement or disability benefit that is smaller than the spouse’s benefit rate, the spouse will receive a spouse’s benefit equal to only the difference between the retirement or disability benefit and the full spouse’s benefit rate.

(4)   The amount of a spouse’s monthly benefit is usually reduced if the spouse receives a pension based on his or her own work for a federal, state, or local government that is not covered by Social Security on the last day of such employment. However, the Social Security Protection Act of 2004 generally requires that a person work in a situation covered by Social Security  for five years to be exempt from this Government Pension Offset (GPO). See Q 66 for more information on the GPO.

If a spouse is entitled to a retirement or disability benefit that is larger than the spouse’s benefit rate, he or she will receive only the retirement or disability benefit.

15. What is the amount of a divorced spouse’s benefit? 

The amount of a divorced spouse’s benefit is the same as a spouse’s benefit amount. As a general rule, it will equal half of the beneficiary’s former spouse’s PIA and will be reduced if he or she elects to start receiving benefits before normal retirement age. However, a divorced spouse’s benefit is paid independently of other family benefits. In other words, it will not be subject to reduction because of the family maximum limit, and will not be taken into account in figuring the maximum limit for the former spouse’s family.

16. Must a spouse be dependent upon the worker for support to be eligible for a spouse’s benefits? 

No, a spouse is entitled to benefits if the worker is receiving benefits and the spouse is otherwise qualified. A spouse need not be dependent upon the worker, and may be independently wealthy.

17. May a spouse lose benefits if the worker works or if the spouse works? 

Yes, a spouse can lose some or all of his or her monthly benefits if the worker is under the full retirement age for the entire year and earnings exceed $15,480 (in 2014). A spouse may also lose benefits in the year the worker reaches full retirement age if the worker earns over $41,400 (in 2014), but only earnings earned before the month the worker reaches full retirement age count towards the $41,400 limit. Similarly, if the spouse is under full retirement age for the entire year and has earnings of over $15,480 (or earnings of over $41,400 in the year that full retirement age is attained), some or all benefits can be lost. 

When both the worker and the spouse have earnings in excess of the earnings limitation: (1) 50% of the worker’s “excess” earnings are charged against the total monthly family benefits if the worker is under the full retirement age, and 33% in the year the worker is to reach the full retirement age, and then (2) the spouse’s “excess” earnings are charged against his or her own benefits in the same manner, depending upon the age of the spouse, but only to the extent that those benefits have not already been charged with the worker’s excess earnings.

Example. Mr. Smith, age 62 on January 1, 2014, is entitled to a monthly retirement benefit of $346, and his wife, also age 62 on January 1, 2014, is entitled to a monthly spouse’s benefit of $162. Mr. Smith had earnings that were $4,064 in excess of the earnings limitation. His wife had earnings that were $1,620 in excess of the earnings limitation. Mr. Smith’s earnings are charged against the total monthly family benefit of $508 ($346 + $162), so neither Mr. Smith nor his wife receives payments for January through April (50% of $4,064 = $2,032, and 4 × $508 = $2,032). The wife’s excess earnings are charged only against her own benefit of $162. As her benefits for January through April were charged with the worker’s excess earnings, the charging of her own earnings cannot begin until May; she thus receives no benefits for May through September (50% of $1,620 = $810, and 5 × $162 = $810).

Exception. The excess earnings of the worker do not cause deductions from the benefits of an entitled divorced spouse who has been divorced from the worker at least two years or whose former spouse was entitled to benefits before the divorce.

18. When does a spouse’s benefit end? 

A spouse’s benefits end when: (1) the spouse dies; (2) the worker dies (in this case, the spouse will be entitled to widow(er)’s, mother’s, or father’s benefits); (3) the worker’s entitlement to disability benefits ends and he or she is not entitled to retirement benefits (unless the divorced spouse meets the requirements for an independently entitled divorced spouse); (4) the spouse is under age 62 and there is no longer a child of the worker under 16 or disabled who is entitled to child’s benefits; (5) the spouse becomes entitled to retirement or disability benefits and his or her PIA is equal to or larger than one-half of the worker’s PIA; (6) the spouse and the worker are divorced before the spouse reaches age 62 and before the spouse and worker had been married for 10 years; or (7) the divorced spouse marries someone other than the worker. However, the divorced spouse’s benefit will not be terminated by marriage to an individual entitled to widow(er)’s, mother’s, father’s or parent’s monthly benefits, or to an individual age 18 or over who is entitled to childhood disability benefits.

A spouse is not entitled to a spouse’s benefit for the month in which any of the above events occurs. The last payment will be the payment for the preceding month.

19. Will a spouse’s benefit be reduced if the spouse is receiving a government pension? 

Social Security benefits payable to spouses – including surviving spouses and divorced spouses – are reduced (but not below zero) by two-thirds of the amount of any governmental (federal, state, or local) retirement benefit payable to the spouse based on his or her own earnings in employment not covered by Social Security, if that person’s last day of employment was not covered by Social Security (but see below for SSPA 2004). Thus, for the affected group, the spouse’s benefit is reduced $2 for every $3 of the government pension.

The Social Security Protection Act of 2004 (SSPA 2004) requires a person to work in covered employment for the last 60 months (instead of one day) of employment to be exempt from the government pension offset (GPO). This change will not apply to someone whose last day of government service was beforeJuly 1, 2004. Also, the required 60 months will be reduced for each month of government service that was covered by Social Security before the enactment of SSPA 2004. These reduced months of service must be performed after enactment.

This offset against Social Security benefits did not apply prior to December 1977, or if the individual: (1) met all the requirements for entitlement to Social Security benefits that existed and were applied in January 1977, and (2) received or was eligible to receive a government pension between December 1977 and December 1982. In addition, it does not apply to those first eligible to receive a government pension prior to July 1983 if they also meet the one-half support test.

Generally, federal workers hired before 1984 are part of the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and are not covered by Social Security. Most Federal workers hired after 1983 are covered by the Federal Employees’ Retirement System Act of 1986 (FERS), which includes coverage by Social Security. The FERS law provided that employees covered by the CSRS could, from July 1, 1987 to December 31, 1987, make a one-time election to join FERS (and thereby obtain Social Security coverage). Thus, a CSRS employee who switched to FERS during this period immediately became exempt from the government pension offset. Also, an employee who elected FERS on or beforeDecember 31, 1987is exempt from the government pension offset, even if that person retired from government service before his FERS coverage became effective.

However, federal employees who elect to become covered under FERS during any election period which may occur on or afterJanuary 1, 1988, are exempt from the government pension offset only if they have five or more years of federal employment covered by Social Security afterJanuary 1, 1988. This rule also applies to certain legislative branch employees who first become covered under FERS on or afterJanuary 1, 1988.

Pensions based wholly on service performed as a member of a uniformed service, whether on active or inactive duty, are excluded from the offset.

20. What is the best time to file for Social Security retirement benefits? 

The decision on when to apply for Social Security retirement benefits depends on a number of factors. Taking benefits early (before full retirement age) will result in a permanent reduction of benefits. Taking retirement benefits later will result in a high benefit amount, but a shorter life may result in lower total benefits. The Social Security Administration provides a Retirement Planner on its website which includes a number of calculators to help a person determine the right time to file for benefits and the effect on benefits of filing early or late.

However, the federal government does allow an individual a “re-do” if he or she decides that the application for retirement benefits was made too early. By filing Form 521, an individual can request that the original application for retirement benefits be withdrawn and a new application date be substituted. The catch is that the individual must pay back all retirements benefits received up to the date of the withdrawal. However the federal government does not charge a penalty or interest for filing a Form 521, but the individual must have the cash to repay the federal government.

Another consideration on for when to take retirement benefits is how much income will be earned in the year for which benefits are applied. Too much earned income will result in a loss of benefits (see Q 197).

Additionally, since Social Security benefits may be subject to income taxation (see Q 207), the individual’s income and tax situation should be considered.

A person should access the Social Security Administration’s website or get in touch with a Social Security office two or three months before reaching age 62. The website and/or the Social Security office will furnish the information needed to decide whether or not to file an application for retirement benefits at that time. Because of the rules regarding retroactive benefits, a person should consider filing for benefits on January 1 of the year that he attains Full Retirement Age (FRA), which may actually be older than age 65 (see Q 31).

If a worker does not file an application, he should contact the Social Security office again: (1) two or three months before retirement; (2) as soon as the worker knows that he will neither earn more than the monthly exempt amount in wages nor render substantial services in self-employment in one or more months of the year, regardless of expected total annual earnings; or (3) two or three months before the worker reaches FRA, even if still working.

It may be advantageous to delay filing an application for benefits where: (1) the person is under the FRA and wishes to wait and receive an unreduced benefit at FRA but benefits are not payable because of earnings (application at or near retirement may provide higher benefits in the year of retirement), or (3) the person would lose benefits payable under some other program.

21. When should a person file for retirement benefits? 

A person should get in touch with a Social Security office two or three months before reaching age 62. The Social Security office will furnish the information needed to decide whether or not to file an application for retirement benefits at that time. Because of the rules regarding retroactive benefits, a person should consider filing for benefits on January 1 of the year that he or she attains Full Retirement Age (FRA).

If a worker does not file an application, he should contact the Social Security office again: (1) two or three months before retirement; (2) as soon as the worker knows that he will neither earn more than the monthly exempt amount in wages nor render substantial services in self-employment in one or more months of the year, regardless of expected total annual earnings; or (3) two or three months before the worker reaches FRA, even if still working.

It may be advantageous to delay filing an application for benefits where: (1) the person is under the FRA and wishes to wait and receive an unreduced benefit at FRA, (2) the person is at the FRA but benefits are not payable because of earnings (application at or near retirement may provide higher benefits in the year of retirement), or (3) the person would lose benefits payable under some other program.

22. If age 62 is the computation age, is there any advantage to waiting until normal retirement age to collect benefits?

Yes, the full PIA is payable at full retirement age, (see Q 188), with a reduced amount paid in case of an earlier retirement age. Age 62 is used to determine elapsed years but earnings are counted to full retirement age. Thus, early retirement usually affects the benefit in two ways. The PIA usually will be smaller (because fewer years of possibly higher earnings will be used in computing the AIME), and the lower PIA will be subject to reduction (5/9 of 1% per month for the first 36 months under the full retirement age and 5/12 of 1% per month for any additional months under the full retirement age).

23. Can a person obtain higher retirement benefits by working past retirement age? 

Yes, in two ways.

First, workers who continue on the job receive an increase in retirement benefits for each year they work between full retirement age and 70. Note that this is not an increase in the worker’s PIA. Other benefits based on the PIA, such as those payable to a spouse, are not affected.

This delayed retirement credit is also payable to a worker’s surviving spouse receiving a widow(er)’s benefit.

Beginning in 1990, the delayed retirement credit payable to workers who attain age 62 after 1986 and who delay retirement past the full retirement age, the full-benefit age (gradually rising from age 65 to age 67) is gradually increased. The delayed retirement credit is increased by one-half of 1% every other year until reaching 8% per year in 2009 or later. The higher delayed retirement credits are based on the year of attaining age 62 and are payable only at and after full retirement age.

Delayed Retirement Credit Rates

 

Attain Age 62

Monthly Percentage

Yearly Percentage

1979-1986

1/4 of 1%

3%

1987-1988

7/24 of 1%

3.50%

1989-1990

1/3 of 1%

4%

1991-1992

3/8 of 1%

4.50%

1993-1994

5/12 of 1%

5%

1995-1996

11/24 of 1%

5.50%

1997-1998

1/2 of 1%

6%

1999-2000

13/24 of 1%

6.50%

2001-2002

7/12 of 1%

7%

2003-2004

5/8 of 1%

7.50%

2005 or after

2/3 of 1%

8%

Workers, who became age 65 before 1990 (and after 1981) and continued on the job, received an increase in retirement benefits usually equal to 3% for each year (1/12 of 3% for each month) they worked between age 65 and 70. (The factor was only 1% for workers who became age 65 before 1982.)

Second, working past the full retirement age frequently results in a higher AIME. The reason: In figuring the number of years to be used in the computation, the year in which the person reaches age 62 and succeeding years are not counted. But those years can be selected as years of highest earnings.

24. Will the retirement age at which unreduced benefits are available ever be increased? 

Yes, the Social Security Amendments of 1983 increased the full retirement age (the age  at which unreduced benefits are available), by two months per year for workers reaching age 62 in 2000-2005 – to age 66; maintained age 66 for workers reaching age 62 in 2006-2016; increased by two months a year the retirement age for workers reaching age 62 in 2017-2022; and maintained age 67 for workers reaching age 62 after 2022. It does not change the age of eligibility for Medicare.

The 1983 amendments do not change the availability of reduced benefits at 62 (60 for widow(er)s), but revise the reduction factors so that there is a further reduction (up to a maximum of 30% for workers entitled at age 62 after the full retirement age is increased to age 67, rather than only up to 20% for entitlement at age 62 under prior rules). There is no increase in the maximum reduction in the case of widow(er)s, but some increases in the reduction occur at ages over 60 and under full retirement age.

Effects of Retirement-Age Provision in Social Security Amendments of 1983*

 

 

 

 

 

Year of Birth

Attainment of Age 62

Full Retirement Age (Year/Months)

Date of Attainment of Full Retirement Age1

Age-62 Benefit as Percent of PIA2

1938

2000

65/2

March 1, 2003

79.2

1939

2001

65/4

May 1, 2004

78.3

1940

2002

65/6

July 1, 2005

77.5

1941

2003

65/8

September 1, 2006

76.7

1942

2004

65/10

November 1, 2007

75.8

1943-1954

2005-2016

66/0

January 1, 2009-2020

75.0

1955

2017

66/2

March 1, 2021

74.2

1956

2018

66/4

May 1, 2022

73.3

1957

2019

66/6

July 1, 2023

72.5

1958

2020

66/8

September 1, 2024

71.7

1959

2021

66/10

November 1, 2025

70.8

1960 and after

2022 and after

67/0

January 1, 2027 
and after

70.0

 

*     Full retirement age is for worker and spouse benefits only. Full retirement age for widow(er)s is based on attainment of age 60 in 2000 or later, so that Full retirement age is age 67 beginning 2029.

1      Birth date assumed to be January 2 of year (for benefit-entitlement purposes, the Social Security Administration considers a person to reach a given age on the day before the anniversary of his birth, thus, someone born on the 1st of the month is considered to reach a given age on the last day of the previous month). For later months of birth, add number of months elapsing after January up to birth month.

2      Applies present-law reduction factor (5/9 of 1 percent per month) for the first 36 months’ receipt of early retirement benefits and new reduction factor of 5/12 of 1 percent per month for additional months.

For more from Joseph F. Stenken, see:

13 Medicare facts you need to know

9 questions to ask about Medigap

Are credit shelter trusts extinct?

 

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