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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 your reach full retirement age decreases them permanently.

Key Takeaways

  • Full retirement age (FRA) refers to the age you must reach to be eligible 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 and gradually increases to 67 for those born in 1960 and afterward.
  • FRA can also refer to when 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 receiving 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 age increases by two months each successive year).

You can elect to receive Social Security benefits starting at age 62, but claiming benefits at an age that is earlier than your FRA will reduce your benefit permanently. For example, if your FRA is 67 and you begin claiming benefits at age 62, the benefits will decrease to 70% of what you would have received at full retirement age. You will get 86.7% of the full retirement benefit if you start claiming at 65.

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

FRA also applies to pension plans, such as employer-sponsored plans. Public servants, police officers, and military members, for example, 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, impact how much Social Security income you get when you start claiming 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 balance payments versus longevity.

History of Full Retirement Age (FRA)

The FRA was 65 when Social Security began. Amendments to Social Security in 1983 included a provision that allowed raising the FRA beginning with people born in 1938 or later. Improvements in the overall health of older people and increased life expectancy prompted the change.

Social Security’s trustees project that, starting in 2021, the Social Security Trust Fund will run a deficit and will need to dip into reserves to cover benefit payments. By the most recent estimates, that means the combined reserves of Social Security's Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) trust fund and the Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund will be depleted by 2034.

Given concerns about the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund, coupled with demographic changes and increases in longevity, there has been talk in conservative circles of making the FRA higher. Other possible solutions include increasing taxes, cutting benefits, or a combination of some or all of these changes.

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 people who are 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 longevity haven’t improved over the decades like those of college graduates have. Their jobs tend to be more physically demanding, and they are less likely to be able to take as much time off as workers with college degrees do.

Full Retirement Age (FRA) Around the World

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

  • Australia: 66 and six months (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 if you were 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 and still 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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  2. Social Security Administration. “Born in 1960.”

  3. Social Security Administration. “Delayed Retirement Credits.”

  4. Social Security Administration. “Historical Background and Development of Social Security.

  5. Social Security Administration. “Social Security Board of Trustees: Combined Trust Funds Projected Depletion One Year Sooner Than Last Year.”

  6. National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. “Social Security Doesn’t Need a Rescue from Mitt Romney.”

  7. Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. “What Explains the Widening Gap in Retirement Ages by Education?” Page 1.

  8. Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. “What Explains the Widening Gap in Retirement Ages by Education?” Pages 1-2.

  9. Australian Government, Department of Social Services. “Age Pension.”

  10. MBWL International. "Brazil: State Pension Reform."

  11. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). “Brazil,” Page 1.

  12. Government of Canada. “CPP Retirement Pension: When to Start Your Pension.”

  13. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). “China,” Page 1.

  14. Centre des Liaisons Européennes et Internationales de Sécurité Sociale (Center for European and International Social Security Liaisons). “The French Social Security System.”

  15. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). “Germany,” Page 1.

  16. Government of India Ministry of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises Department of Public Enterprises. "Office Memorandum."

  17. Social Security Administration. “Indonesia.”

  18. Japan Pension Service. “National Pension System.”

  19. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). “Mexico.

  20. Republic of the Philippines, Social Security System. “Retirement Benefit.”

  21. Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development. "Russian Federation," Page 1.

  22. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). “Korea,” Page 1.

  23. Department for Work and Pensions. “State Pension Age Timetable.”

  24. Social Security Administration. "Receiving Benefits While Working."

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