Nearly half of older Americans get this crucial Social Security fact wrong

Even if you end up saving money for retirement, and a decent amount of it, you may end up pretty dependent on Social Security when your time in the workforce is over. So it’s really important that you claim Social Security at the right time.

But falling victim to misinformation can lead you to claim benefits at the wrong time. And it can be disastrous for your senior years.

Know when you are eligible to receive your monthly benefit in full

The monthly benefit you’re entitled to from Social Security depends on your personal earnings history — especially the amount of money you earned during your 35 most profitable years in the workforce. But that’s only part of the equation.

Image source: Getty Images.

Your filing age will also determine how much monthly income you can get from Social Security as a retiree. So it is important to know when you are eligible to receive your monthly benefit in full.

Now you can only claim social security from the age of 62. But you won’t be eligible for your full monthly benefit based on your earnings until you reach full retirement age or FRA.

Unfortunately, however, many older Americans are misled when the FRA falls. In a recent MassMutual survey of American adults aged 55 to 65, only 56% could correctly identify this statement as false: “Under current Social Security law, full retirement age is 65, regardless of when you were born.” To put it another way, 44% of older Americans believed it was true that 65 is OFF for everyone.

But actually the FRA depends on your year of birth. And it hasn’t been 65 for anyone for a long time.

Granted, back when Social Security was first established, the FRA was set at 65. But life expectancy has increased a lot since then, so the FRA has been bumped up. Now consult this table to see what your FRA looks like:

Year of birth

Full retirement age




66 and 2 months


66 and 4 months


66 and 6 months


66 and 8 months


66 and 10 months

1960 or later


Data source: Social Security Administration.

As mentioned, you can claim social security before FRA. But if you don’t want your monthly benefit reduced, you need to know what your FRA is – and make sure you don’t apply for social security before then.

You should also know that you can boost your monthly Social Security benefit on a permanent basis by delaying your application past the FRA. This option remains in place until age 70.

To be clear, FRA – whatever yours is – is not necessarily your “best” application age. Rather, it’s something you have to decide based on a wide range of factors, from how much retirement savings you have to whether you’re able to continue working.

But it is crucial that you know your FRA before you sit down to decide on an application age. So if you’re among the nearly 50% of Americans who think the FRA will reach 65, do yourself a favor and commit your actual FRA to memory so you don’t end up regretting your filing decision later.

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