You've worked hard over the years to be able to tap into your Social Security benefits when you retire — or maybe even before you reach full retirement age. The Social Security Administration allows you to access your benefits when you turn 62, but if you do, you'll receive a lower benefit amount than if you waited until your full retirement age.
If you delay your benefits until after your full retirement age — but before you turn 70 — you'll receive an increase for each year that you do. Here's an overview of when to take Social Security and how to qualify for disability and other benefits the SSA offers. Remember that retirement planning is essential if you want to get the most out of your Social Security benefits.
When to Start Drawing Social Security Retirement Benefits
You can draw Social Security benefits from the age of 62 to 70. The age at which you choose to start receiving benefits, however, might reduce or increase the amount you get. For example, if you were born between 1943 and 1954 and decide to retire at 62, you will receive only 75 percent of your benefits, but if you wait until you're 65, you'll get 93.3 percent. If you were born during this time frame, here's a breakdown of what percentage of your benefits you'll receive depending on when you retire:
- Age 63: 80 percent
- Age 65: 86.7 percent
- Age 65: 93.3 percent
- Age 66: 100 percent
Use this Social Security retirement age chart to see how much of your benefits you would receive depending on your retirement age. Then, make your decision about when to retire according to how much income you'll need.
Delaying Your Social Security Retirement Benefits
If you delay your benefits beyond your full retirement age, you'll receive a rate increase until you reach 70. The yearly increase ranges from 5.5 percent to 8 percent, depending on your year of birth. You won't qualify for an increase after you reach 70, however, even if you continue delaying retirement.
When to Start Drawing Social Security Spousal Benefits
If your spouse is receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits, you might qualify for your spouse's benefits even if you haven't worked and contributed to Social Security. You must be at least 62 years of age to apply — the early retirement age for Social Security — or you can be any age if you care for a child who is either under 16 or disabled and who qualifies for benefits under your spouse.
You'll receive up to 50 percent of your spouse's benefit at full retirement age — and your benefit will be permanently reduced if you take it before then. If you're divorced but were married for at least 10 years, you might be eligible to receive benefits from your former spouse's Social Security credits.
When to Start Drawing on a Social Security Death Benefit
You might be eligible for a lump sum death payment of $255 if you're a surviving spouse or child. You must apply for a Social Security death benefit within two years of the date of death, but you don't have to reach the Social Security full retirement age to qualify for it.
When to Start Drawing Supplemental Social Security Income
If you have limited income and are 65 years of age or older, blind or disabled, you might be eligible for Supplemental Social Security Income. If you meet the eligibility criteria, you can receive Social Security benefits when you reach your retirement age in addition to SSI benefits.
Research the differences between SSI, Social Security retirement benefits and Social Security disability benefits to understand what you qualify for before applying. The Social Security Disability program, for example, provides benefits to those who cannot work because of a medical condition, and you must be disabled for at least five months before you can get payments.
You don't have to be at your full retirement age to receive disability benefits, and they will cease once you're recovered. The SSA determines whether you can be classified as disabled — the amount you receive depends on how long you've been working and contributing to Social Security, similar to how retirement benefits credits are accrued.
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