Many Americans aim to retire at the age of 62 because it's the earliest age to begin collecting Social Security. But actually, in a recent survey of investors across 24 countries, Natixis Investment Managers found that workers on a whole think they'll retire at 62. The question is: Is that a good idea?

Is 62 too young to call it quits?

In some countries, it may be possible to retire at age 62. But in the U.S., it's a tougher prospect.

Many people struggle to save independently for retirement, and gone are the days when the majority of workers were entitled to a generous pension once their careers wrapped up. That means that a lot of seniors wind up being heavily dependent on Social Security. And those who claim their benefits at 62 inevitably wind up reducing that income stream substantially.

Senior person on sailboat holding mug.

Image source: Getty Images.

Workers are entitled to their full monthly Social Security benefit at full retirement age (FRA), which kicks in at 66, 67, or somewhere in between, depending on year of birth. Signing up for benefits at age 62 means reducing them by 25% to 30%, and on a permanent basis in most cases.

Now workers who do manage to amass a nice chunk of money in a retirement plan may be more than able to comfortably wrap up their careers at 62. But those who intend to rely largely on Social Security are generally advised to wait until FRA to claim benefits, or even beyond.

In fact, seniors aren't required to sign up for benefits at FRA. Rather, they can delay their filings and score an 8% boost to their benefits for each year they do. That incentive runs out at age 70, but it means workers with a FRA of 67 can grow their Social Security paychecks up to 24% -- for life.

When should you plan to retire?

Many people aim to retire at a relatively young age so they have the option to enjoy that stage of life before health or mobility issues set in. When establishing your personal retirement age, there are several factors to keep in mind:

  • Your life expectancy (if you're in great health as retirement approaches, you may live longer than someone your age who has numerous issues already)
  • Your retirement goals
  • Your retirement savings balance
  • Your willingness to work in some capacity as a senior or not

If you think you'll live a longer life, whether due to your great health or a family history, then retiring at 62 may not be the best idea, especially if it also means claiming Social Security at 62 and reducing your benefits in the process. On the other hand, if you've saved nicely for retirement and also intend to maintain a low-key lifestyle, then retiring at 62 may work out just fine, even if your plan is to take benefits once you tender your resignation.

Furthermore, if you intend to continue earning an income during retirement, you'll have more flexibility to end your career earlier. Retirement happens to be a great time to start a business, and working to some degree could give you something meaningful to do with your time.

Ultimately, there's no right or wrong age to retire. You may want to retire at 62, and that could work out well. Just make sure you understand the consequences of leaving the workforce at that point in life.