What Is Full Retirement Age for My Social Security Benefits?

Full retirement age is a key component of your benefits.

Senior couple reading Social Security form
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Full retirement age (FRA) is not the same age for everyone, as it is determined by your day and year of birth. It is the age at which you are eligible to receive your "full" amount of Social Security benefits.

If you collect benefits earlier than FRA, your benefits are reduced because you will begin receiving your benefits early. The earliest you can collect Social Security retirement benefits is age 62.

If you begin benefits later than FRA your benefits are increased as you get the benefit of something called delayed retirement credits.

How Day and Year of Birth Determine Your FRA

Social Security considers you to have attained an age the day before your birthday, so the calendar years in the table below apply to someone born on January 2 of that year to someone born on January 1 of the following year. Keeping that in mind, here is FRA by year of birth:

  • If you were born in 1937 or earlier, FRA is 65.
  • 1938: 65 and 2 months
  • 1939: 65 and 4 months
  • 1940: 65 and 6 months
  • 1941: 65 and 8 months
  • 1942: 65 and 10 months
  • 1943--1954: 66
  • 1955: 66 and 2 months
  • 1956: 66 and 4 months
  • 1957: 66 and 6 months
  • 1958: 66 and 8 months
  • 1959: 66 and 10 months
  • If you were born in 1960 or later, Full Retirement Age is 67.

If You Were Born on the 1st of the Year or 1st of the Month

When determining your Full Retirement Age, as noted above, it is important to know that according to the Social Security rules, you are considered to attain an age the day before your birthday. If you were born on the first of the year, use the FRA for the year before your year of birth.

As an example of the attained age rule, someone born on January 1, 1956, would have a FRA of 66 and 2 months - as they were born on the 1st, they are considered to have attained the age of 66 and 2 months in 1955.

For purposes of the month you are entitled to receive benefits, if you were born on the first of the month, you are considered to attain that age the month before. Someone born February 1, 1950, would be entitled to receive their FRA benefit amount for the month of January, although benefits are paid in arrears, so the check would not be received until the month of February.

On Social Security's website see the Full Retirement Age page for additional details.

FRA is Different for a Widow or Widower

If you are applying for a widow or widower's benefit, the earliest age you can receive these benefits is age 60, when you would receive a reduced benefit. The FRA for your survivor benefits is slightly different than the schedule above. 

For example, someone born 1945 - 1956 would reach their full FRA for survivor's benefit at their age 66 (this is different than the 1943 - 1954 range for retirement benefits in the table above.) See Full Retirement Age for Survivors for additional info on how FRA differs for widows and widowers.

Why Knowing Your FRA Is Important

Knowing your FRA is important for two reasons.

  1. If you take Social Security benefits before your FRA, you will receive a reduced benefit.
  2. If you take Social Security benefits before FRA, and you earn income in excess of the annual earnings limit, your Social Security benefit will be reduced. Once you reach FRA, you can earn as much as you like and your Social Security benefit will not be reduced.
  3. Do not confuse Social Security with Medicare. You'll hear the age, "65" when referring to Medicare but for most, the important age for Social Security is "67."

In addition, for couples, in many cases having the spouse who earned the most wait until FRA or later to begin benefits can result in a serious boost to survivor benefits. If you're married, be sure to coordinate your claiming decision to put the two of you in the most secure position. 

Article Sources

  1. Social Security Administration. "Starting Your Retirement Benefits Early." Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.

  2. Social Security Administration. "Normal Retirement Age (NRA)." Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.

  3. Social Security Administration. "§ 404.102. Definitions." Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.

  4. Social Security Administration. "What You Need to Know When You Get Retirement or Survivors Benefits," Page 1. Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.

  5. Social Security Administration. "If You Are the Survivor." Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.

  6. Social Security Administration. "Full Retirement Age for Survivors Born Between 1945 And 1956: 66." Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.

  7. Social Security Administration. "Retirement Benefits," Pages 11-12. Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.

  8. Social Security Administration. "§ 404.313. What Are Delayed Retirement Credits and How Do They Increase My Old-Age Benefit Amount?" Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.