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The Social Security Act – and subsequent amendments – have set a minimum age at which individuals may begin taking retirement benefits. In this article, we’ll explain how the Social Security minimum retirement age works. 

Key Takeaways

  • In the United States, a worker must reach a minimum retirement age to receive Social Security retirement benefits
  • The original Social Security Act set the minimum retirement age for full benefits to 65
  • In 1983, a plan was put in place to gradually increase the minimum retirement age to 67 
  • An individual’s full retirement age is determined based on their birth year
  • The absolute minimum age at which a worker may begin taking benefits is 62
  • Retirement benefits will be reduced for individuals who begin taking them before full retirement age

What Is Mininum Retirement Age?

In the United States, the Social Security Administration offers retirement benefits to qualifying workers. In order to receive these benefits, one must reach a minimum retirement age. The original Social Security Act of 1935 set the minimum age for receiving full retirement benefits as 65. However, this was amended in 1983. 

Because of improvements in older people’s health and increased life expectancy – which has gone up by several years since the introduction of the Social Security Act in 1935 –, Congress introduced a plan to gradually increase the full retirement age. This plan raised the minimum retirement age from 65 to 67 over a 22-year period, with an 11-year hiatus at which the retirement age remained at 66. 

The table below indicates the full retirement age for workers based on their birth year. 

Birth year Full retirement age
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
1960 and later 67 

Note that this is the age at which people are eligible for full retirement benefits. The absolute minimum age at which an individual may begin taking Social Security benefits is 62. However, these benefits will be reduced. Similarly, waiting to begin taking benefits until after full retirement age (up to age 70) will increase an individual’s monthly benefits.

Social Security expert to determine the best age at which to begin taking benefits.

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