Full Retirement Age (FRA)

What Is Full Retirement Age (FRA)?

Full retirement age (FRA), also known as normal retirement age, is the age at which you can receive full retirement benefits from Social Security. Full retirement age varies depending on the year you were born. FRA is 66 years and two months for people born in 1955, and it gradually rises to 67 for those born in 1960 or later. 

Claiming benefits before you reach full retirement age decreases them permanently.

Key Takeaways

  • Full retirement age (FRA) is the age you must reach to receive full retirement benefits from Social Security.
  • Your FRA varies depending on when you were born.
  • In the United States, the FRA is 66 years and two months for those born in 1955, increasing gradually to 67 for those born in 1960 or later.
  • FRA can also refer to the age at which a worker is eligible to receive pension benefits.
  • The FRA for other countries’ retirement systems also varies, typically from 65 to 67 years of age.

Understanding Full Retirement Age (FRA)

In the U.S., the FRA for Social Security benefits is 67 for people born in 1960 or afterward. It is 66 for people born from 1943 to 1954, and 66 and two, four, six, eight, or 10 months for people born from 1955 to 1959 (the retirement age increases by two months per birth year).

You can elect to receive Social Security benefits starting at age 62, but claiming benefits at an age below your FRA will reduce your benefit permanently. For example, if your FRA is 67 and you begin claiming benefits at age 62, the monthly benefit will be 70% of the benefit available at full retirement age. You will get 86.7% of the full retirement benefit if you start claiming benefits at 65.

If you were born in 1943 or later, your benefit will increase by 8% for each year you delay claiming it after your FRA. Waiting until you reach 70 will yield the maximum benefit. There’s no reason to wait beyond age 70 because your benefits won't increase further.

FRA also applies to pension plans, such as employer-sponsored plans. Police officers, military service members, and other public servants typically receive full benefits after a certain number of service years, rather than at a specific age.

Other factors, such as how much you've paid into the system over the years, affect the size of your Social Security retirement benefits. To figure out the optimal age to start claiming benefits, you need to calculate your Social Security breakeven age to ensure that you properly evaluate the trade-offs between the benefit's start date and amount.

History of Full Retirement Age (FRA)

The FRA was 65 when Social Security began in 1935. Legislation in 1983 increased the FRA for people born in 1938 or later to a maximum of 67 to account for gains in life expectancy.

Social Security’s trustees project growing deficits for the Social Security Trust Fund, drawing down its reserves to cover benefit payments. By the most recent estimates, the combined reserves of Social Security's Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) trust fund and the Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund would be depleted by 2035.

Some conservatives have cited concerns about the program's solvency in advocating a further increase in the FRA. Social Security's projected deficits could be addressed with benefit cuts, payroll tax increases or a combination of those approaches. Alternatively, they could be financed with debt alongside other deficit spending.

To figure out your full retirement age, use the online calculator offered by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Average Retirement Age in the U.S.

The average retirement age for Americans has increased by about three years over the past three decades, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Even so, on average, Americans are retiring before they reach full retirement age. Men retire at an average age of 64.6 years. The average retirement age for women is 62.3 years.

The increase in the average retirement age has been fueled in large part by the later retirements of college graduates, the research from Boston College shows. For example, men with college degrees retire three years later than men who are high school graduates. One major reason workers (both men and women) who are high school graduates tend to retire earlier is that their health and life expectancy haven't improved as much as those of college graduates over the past century. Their jobs also tend to be more physically demanding, and they are not able to take as much time off as workers with college degrees.

Full Retirement Age (FRA) Around the World

FRA around the world can be as young as 58 but typically ranges between 65 and 67. It can differ for men and women in some countries. Here are some examples:

  • Australia: 66.5 (to be increased to 67 by 2023)
  • Brazil: 65 (men); 62 (women, raised from 60 in October 2019)
  • Canada: 65
  • China: 60 (men); 50 (blue-collar women); or 55 (white-collar women)
  • France: 62
  • Germany: 65 and six or seven months (depending on birth year, and gradually increasing to 67 for those born in 1964 or after)
  • India: 60
  • Indonesia: 56 (gradually increasing to 65 by 2043)
  • Japan: 65
  • Mexico: 65
  • Philippines: 60
  • Russia: 61.5 for men (gradually increasing to 65 by 2028) and 56.5 for women (gradually increasing to 63 by 2028)
  • South Korea: 62 (gradually increasing to 65 by 2033)
  • United Kingdom: 66 (to be increased to 67 by 2028)

What Is My Social Security Full Retirement Age?

If you were born in 1955, your full retirement age is 66 years and two months. FRA gradually increases to 67 for those born in 1960 or later.

How Much Does Early Retirement Affect Social Security Benefits?

You can take Social Security benefits as early as age 62. But doing so will permanently reduce your benefits to 70% of what you would receive at full retirement age.

Can I Work After Full Retirement Age?

Yes. You can collect Social Security retirement benefits at full retirement age while continuing to work. If you begin collecting Social Security before your full retirement age and earn over a certain amount, your benefits will be temporarily reduced. When you reach full retirement age, there is no limit on how much you can earn while collecting full benefits.

Article Sources
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