If you have a pension (also known as a defined benefit plan), it specifies when you may retire at full benefit as well as if and when you may retire earlier at a reduced benefit. Plans may differ so it is necessary to look into the specifics of your plan.

Uniform across the country, Social Security works in much the same way. If you have worked, you have paid into Social Security throughout your career. Based on how much you have paid and on the nation’s general life expectancy projections, the Social Security Administration calculates how much you will be paid monthly upon retirement.

Originally, full retirement age was 65, but for everyone born after 1938, it has been raised (see chart). You can also retire early (after age 62), but your monthly payment will be reduced until you reach your full retirement age. Once you reach full retirement age and begin accepting your benefit, the amount of your monthly payment will be constant until you die.

The Social Security Administration’s retirement estimator provides a means to estimate how much your Social Security benefit will be.

If you choose not to take your benefit at full retirement age, the amount you eventually receive will be increased for each year up to age 70. Also, the amount of your benefit may increase due to cost-of-living adjustments.

Social Security

Birth YearFull Retirement Age

1937 or earlier



65 years, 2 months


65 years, 4 months


65 years, 6 months


65 years, 8 months


65 years, 10 months




66 years, 2 months


66 years, 4 months


66 years, 6 months


66 years, 8 months


66 years, 10 months

1960 or later