Are you thinking about claiming your Social Security benefits soon? Before you decide to start taking your benefits, it's important to determine if you've reached your full retirement age. If you haven't, claiming Social Security now instead of waiting could result in much lower benefits.

## How much will your Social Security benefit be reduced if you retire early?

Social Security benefits are calculated based on a formula that factors in your highest 35 years of earnings, adjusted for wage growth. The formula determines what your standard benefit amount is, which is the benefit you receive if you retire at the age the Social Security Administration designated as your full retirement age (FRA).

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When you retire and claim Social Security before FRA, you reduce your standard benefit -- the amount of money you'd receive at FRA -- by 5/9 of 1% for the first 36 months before FRA and an additional 5/12 of 1% per month for each earlier month if you retire more than 36 months early. That's about a 6.7% annual reduction if you retire less than three years early and an additional 5% reduction if you retire more than three years early.

If you're not sure exactly how that all adds up, the table below shows how much your benefits could be cut if you retire before a full retirement age of 67, which is the FRA for anyone born after 1960.

Age of Retirement

Change in Monthly Benefits Compared to FRA

62

30% reduction

63

25% reduction

64

20% reduction

65

13.3% reduction

66

6.7% reduction

67

No change

These reductions in benefits make a real difference. A \$1,500 standard benefit at FRA would become a \$1,050 benefit if claimed at age 62 thanks to the 30% reduction.

If you retire late instead of early, you earn delayed retirement credits. This means benefits increase by 2/3 of 1% per month up until age 70. This is an 8% increase each year. If full retirement age was 67 and you retire at 70, you'd get 24% more each month, as the table below shows. A \$1,500 benefit at 67 would become an \$1,860 benefit at 70.

Age of Retirement

Change in Monthly Benefits Compared to FRA

67

No change

68

8% increase

69

16% increase

70

24% increase