What Is the Best Age to Retire?

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Don't concern yourself with the average retirement age — decide what the best age to retire is for you. If you want all of your benefits from the Social Security Administration, wait until you reach the full retirement age as defined by the SSA to stop working. Whenever you choose to take this step, make sure you have enough money to cover your expenses and long-term care.

Find your year of birth and review how your benefits will be affected if you retire early. Make an educated decision so you can maximize your Social Security benefits.

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If You Were Born in 1937 or Earlier

If you were born in 1937 or earlier, your full retirement age is 65. Although retiring at age 62 is permitted, if you do start drawing retirement benefits at 62, it will cost you a 20 percent reduction in your benefits. Spousal and survivor benefits are reduced by 50 percent if you collect benefits before full retirement age.

Read: 6 Ways to Make Your Retirement Savings Last

If You Were Born Between 1938 and 1942

The full retirement age for anyone born between 1938 and 1942 is 65 plus a certain number of months — the number of months depends on the year you were born. Reference the chart below to find out how much your benefits will be reduced if you retire early, according to the SSA.

Birth Year Full Retirement Age Years Between Age 62 and Full Retirement Age Reduction in Benefits at Age 62 Reduction in Spousal Benefits at Age 62
1938 65 and 2 months 3.2 20.83% 25.83%
1939 65 and 4 months 3.3 21.67% 26.67%
1940 65 and 6 months 3.5 22.50% 27.50%
1941 65 and 8 months 3.6 23.33% 28.33%
1942 65 and 10 months 3.8 24.17% 29.17%
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If You Were Born Between 1943 and 1954

The full Social Security retirement age for men and women born between 1943 and 1954 is 66. If you retire at 62, your benefits will be reduced by 25 percent. If you hold out until you turn 65, you'll get 93.3 percent of your benefits. Spousal benefits are 50 percent if you and your spouse wait until 66 to retire, but if you retire at 62, you'll receive only 35 percent of those benefits.

If You Were Born Between 1955 and 1959

To get full benefits, you must retire at 66 and several months if you were born between 1955 and 1959. Again, your exact birth date determines how many additional months you'll have to wait. Reference the chart of SSA information for the full retirement age for each birth year and the reductions you will be subject to if you retire early. Use this information to help you determine when to retire.

Birth Year Full Retirement Age Years Between Age 62 and Full Retirement Age Reduction in Benefits at Age 62 Reduction in Spousal Benefits at Age 62
1955 66 and 2 months 4.2 25.83% 30.83%
1956 66 and 4 months 4.3 26.67% 31.67%
1957 66 and 6 months 4.5 27.50% 32.50%
1958 66 and 8 months 4.7 28.33% 33.33%
1959 66 and 10 months 4.8 29.17% 34.17%
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Retirement for Individuals Born 1960 and Later

Everyone born during or after 1960 will receive their full retirement benefits at 67. If you fall into this category, you can still collect Social Security at 62, but your benefits will be reduced by 30 percent. If you wait until you're 65, your benefits will be reduced by 13.3 percent.

For spousal benefits, if you wait to retire at your full age, you can collect 50 percent. If you retire at 65, you'll receive 41.7 percent of your benefits, and if you retire at 62, you'll get 32.5 percent.

Related: 50 Things Every 50-Something Should Know About Retirement

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Plan Your Retirement

Whether you want to retire at 50, retire at 55, or wait until you've reached your full retirement age, you'll need to make a retirement savings plan. Ask yourself these questions to ask before you retire:

  • What do I plan on doing during my retirement years?
  • How much savings and assets will I have accumulated?
  • Will I remain in my current home during retirement or relocate?
  • What will my total monthly income be after taxes?
  • What expenses will I have when I retire?
  • Do I have any debt?
  • Do I want to leave an inheritance to anyone?

After you determine your full retirement age and ask yourself these questions, you'll know what financial planning you still need to do and you'll have a better idea of whether you can afford to retire early.

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