Standard Retirement: Legal Definition

The legal definition of standard retirement is the age at which a person becomes eligible to claim their full Social Security benefit. The standard retirement age is gradually creeping up. Americans born between 1943 and 1955 have a standard retirement age of 66. Starting with the birth year 1956, though, retirees must wait four additional months beyond their 66th birthday to claim their full benefit.

However, a person does not have to wait until their standard retirement age to start collecting Social Security. Even as standard retirement creeps higher, Americans still may claim their benefit as early as age 62. This comes with a financial penalty, though. Likewise, a person may wait as late as age 70 to claim benefits, and by doing so claim a more substantial monthly check.

The Evolving Standard Retirement Age

When most people think of “retirement age,” they think of 65. That is because 65 was the standard retirement age for Social Security for many years. As time went by, the Social Security Administration (SSA) realized the financial necessity of raising the standard retirement age.

Lifespans have increased in America at the same time birth rates have dropped. As a result, large amounts of older people are collecting benefits while there are fewer young people to fund those benefits.

Determining the Standard Retirement Age

A person’s standard retirement age (also known as “normal retirement age” or “full retirement age”) is based on what year they turn 62. A person who turned 62 in 2017 (born in 1955) must wait until they are 66 years and two months old to claim their full benefit. But a person who did not turn 62 until 2018 (born in 1956) must wait until they are 66 years and four months old.

The standard retirement age will keep increasing in small increments like this until it hits 67. Anyone reading this who is younger than 50 right now should not plan on collecting full Social Security until they are — at the very least, and probably older — 67 years of age.

Claiming Benefits Early or Late

If you start collecting Social Security before your standard retirement age, you will receive a lower monthly benefit. If you wait until after your standard retirement age, you will receive a higher monthly benefit.

The calculation of how much more or less you will receive at any given age is complex. A lawyer can help you figure out any specific scenario.

Just to give an example, though, as of 2018, a person eligible to receive $1,000 a month at their standard retirement age of 66 and four months would receive only about $750 if they claimed it at 62 (the earliest age to declare for benefits). If the same person waited until 70, they would receive about $1,320 per month.

Call 865-566-0800 Today for a Free Case Evaluation with a Social Security Attorney

If you want to discuss your Social Security situation in greater detail, a Social Security disability attorney from the Disability Advantage Group can help. We offer a free case evaluation. Call us at 865-566-0800 for an appointment.