Your Full Retirement Age (FRA) According to Social Security

Learn What Your FRA Means to Your Retirement and How to Find It

Retired couple
••• baona/Getty Images

As you prepare for retirement, you should remember one significant part of the planning process that is often neglected: deciding when to begin receiving your Social Security benefits. Understanding your full retirement age (FRA) is an important first step in determining when to claim your benefits.

Factors in Calculating Your Monthly Benefit

The U.S. Congress and the Social Security Administration (SSA) define your FRA based on the year in which you were born. Your FRA is a critical component of retirement planning because the SSA calculates your monthly retirement benefit based on just two components:

  1. Your lifetime earnings history
  2. The age at which you begin collecting your retirement benefit as compared to your FRA

The SSA adjusts your actual earnings to account for changes in average wages since you earned that money and considers the 35 years during which you earned the most money. It then applies a formula to determine the basic benefit you would receive at your FRA.

Early Retirement

Social Security retirement benefits are actually available as early as age 62. But filing for retirement benefits during any year from when you reach age 62 to the year before you reach your FRA, which the SSA also calls the normal retirement age, is considered "early" retirement. Those who opt for early retirement also opt for a permanently reduced benefit in exchange for starting to collect it early.

While there are some circumstances under which taking the benefit early may be the best decision—such as a retiree who anticipates living for less than the average life expectancy—more often than not it is best to wait at least until your FRA.

The latest you can begin taking Social Security benefits is age 70.

FRAs According to Birth Year

If you were born in 1937 or earlier, from 1943 to 1954, or in 1960 or later, determining your FRA is straightforward. If you're in the first group, your FRA is 65. If you're in the second group, your FRA is 66. And if you're in the third group, your FRA is 67.

If you were born from 1938 to 1942, your FRA is 65 and some months. And if you were born from 1955 to 1959, your FRA is 66 and some months.

Year of Birth Full Retirement Age
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
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 on the first day of a month, the SSA considers you to have been born in the previous month. That means if you were born on January 1, the SSA considers you to have been born in the previous year.

Effect of Early Retirement on the Monthly Benefit for Someone Who Retires at 62

If you choose to retire before your FRA, your monthly benefit will be reduced by as much as 30%. If your spouse chooses to retire before their FRA, the monthly benefit they could collect from your Social Security will be reduced by as much as 35% from the usual 50% amount a spouse would receive at FRA. The chart below shows information for someone retiring at age 62.

Year of Birth Months Between Age 62 and FRA Percentage of Reduction in Benefit Percentage of Reduction in Benefit for Spouse
1937 or earlier 36 20% 25%
1938 38 20.83% 25.83%
1939 40 21.67% 26.67%
1940 42 22.50% 27.50%
1941 44 23.33% 28.33%
1942 46 24.17% 29.17%
1943-1954 48 25% 30%
1955 50 25.83% 30.83%
1956 52 26.67% 31.67%
1957 54 27.50% 32.50%
1958 56 28.33% 33.33%
1959 58 29.17% 34.17%
1960 and later 60 30% 35%

You must be 62 for the entire month to begin receiving Social Security payments in that month, so you will collect your first benefit in the month after your birthday.

Charts for Different Birth Years

The SSA's website offers a series of charts based on birth year that outline benefit amounts for the worker and their spouse at different points before and at FRA. For instance, the chart is for someone born from 1943 to 1954 is available at https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/1943.html. To find a similar chart for your birth year, replace 1943 in the URL with your four-digit birth year from 1955 to 1960. As of March 2020, 1960 was the latest year available.

The earliest you can apply for Social Security benefits is three months before you turn the age at which you expect to retire and want to begin receiving benefits.

Article Sources

  1. Social Security Administration. "Your Retirement Benefit: How It’s Figured." Accessed March 5, 2020.

  2. Social Security Administration. "Benefits by Year of Birth." Accessed March 5, 2020.