Social Security will likely provide a substantial amount of income for you during retirement, and as such, it's crucial to get as much money from it as possible. Though your benefits are calculated based on your 35 highest-paid years of wages, the age at which you file for Social Security will impact the amount of money you ultimately collect.

You're entitled to your full monthly benefit based on your earnings history at full retirement age, or FRA. Here's what that age looks like, based on when you were born:

If This Is Your Year of Birth:

This Is Your Full Retirement Age:




66 and 2 months


66 and 4 months


66 and 6 months


66 and 8 months


66 and 10 months

1960 or later



But you're not limited to claiming Social Security at FRA. You can file as early as age 62, or you can delay benefits past FRA. If you claim benefits before reaching FRA, they'll be reduced in the process. But if you hold off on claiming benefits beyond FRA, you'll accrue delayed retirement credits that boost them by 8% a year. As such, it often pays to delay your Social Security filing -- but only to a point.

Date on calendar being circled


Delayed retirement credits aren't unlimited

The delayed retirement credits you'll accumulate by waiting to claim Social Security can no longer accrue once you turn 70. This means that if your FRA is 66, the highest boost you can snag for your benefits is 32%. If your FRA is 67, you're looking at a maximum 24% boost.

It pays to file for Social Security as soon as you turn 70, since there's no financial incentive for waiting any longer. However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) won't force you to file at that point, and if you continue delaying, you'll risk losing out on money that could've been yours.

Now one thing you should know is that the SSA will pay you up to six months of retroactive benefits if you file past the age of 70. For example, if you file at 70 1/2, you won't lose out on income you were entitled to because the SSA will make you whole. But if you file at 71, you'll lose out on six months of benefits you could've collected but didn't.

That's why it's crucial to avoid delaying your benefits too long. Though waiting until 70 to file is a good way to get more money from Social Security, there's no sense in holding off past that point.

Furthermore, while it often pays to claim Social Security at 70 for that maximum benefit boost, in some cases, waiting even that long is a bad idea. For example, if your health is in poor shape, you're generally better off taking your benefits earlier in life, not later.

The point? Read up on how Social Security works to develop a smart filing strategy, or consult a financial advisor who can guide you in this regard. You deserve to make the most of the benefits you're entitled to, and claiming them at the right age will help you do just that.