One day, we will all retire. That’s a fact, barring extremely unfortunate circumstances. When it comes time for retirement, we are going to want to get all we can out of it to keep our golden years safe, content and happy. Retiring at the federal full retirement age is one important part of getting your full retirement amount.

What is “full retirement age?”

The federal government set the full retirement age (sometimes called normal retirement age) as the breakpoint at which a person can retire and receive 100% of their retirement benefits. If you retire before reaching the full retirement age, you will only receive a percentage of your full retirement benefits, depending upon how close you were to the breakpoint.

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Full retirement age by years

For many years, the full retirement age was set at 65 years old. The federal reforms in 1983 changed all that. The new laws created a sort of table for full retirement age which increased it according to the year a person was born. Only people born in 1937 or before can still get full retirement benefits at 65.

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Full retirement age schedule of change

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The new age for full retirement benefit is dependant upon the year of your birth. Beginning with people born in or before 1937, whose full retirement age is exactly 65, the full retirement age increases by two months for every year later you were born. That means people born in 1938 can retire comfortably at 65 and two months, 1939 at 65 and four months, and so on.

The new full retirement age cap

The pattern I talked about above (born one year later means two months higher) holds true until it reaches the new, higher full retirement age. Anyone born in or after 1960 cannot receive full retirement benefits until they reach 67 years of age as opposed to the old cap at 65 years.

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Early retirement

The new, higher, age for full retirement doesn’t change the age for early retirement, but it does affect how much of their retirement benefits an early retiree would receive. The minimum age for early retirement is still 62 years old, but a person retiring at that age only gets 70% of their benefits. This increases year by year to 100% at 67.

Frank Murray