34.5 Retiring on Social Security Benefits

Retirement benefits are not paid automatically. You should file for Social Security retirement benefits three months before you want to start receiving benefits. The age for receiving full Social Security benefits, traditionally 65, was increased for those born after 1937. For those born in 1943–1954, you must be age 66 to receive full benefits ; see the Law Alert on this page. Reduced benefits may be elected if you are at least age 62. The reduction for starting benefits early depends on the number of months between the start date and your full Social Security retirement age. For example, if you were born in 1951 and elect benefits at age 62 in 2013, the benefit reduction is 25%. Even though your full Social Security retirement age is over 65, you should register with the Social Security Administration three months before the month in which you turn age 65 to ensure Medicare coverage.

If you were born in 1943 or later and delay benefits beyond full Social Security retirement age of 66, your Social Security benefit increases 8% for each year you delay retirement. The increase for delaying benefits no longer applies once you reach age 70.

Benefits before reaching full retirement age may be reduced because of earnings.

If you are under full retirement age and are receiving benefits, $1 of benefits will be deducted for each $2 earned above an annual limit. In 2012, the limit was $14,640 (the 2013 limit will be listed in the e-Supplement at ...

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