Social Security makes up a huge portion of most retirees income. Taking your check at the right time can mean the difference between tens of thousands of dollars during your lifetime in benefits. 

If you want to get Social Security timing right, the first thing you absolutely need to know is your full retirement age. While many people believe that they get their full retirement benefit at 65, that is not the case anymore.

What is my full retirement age now?

Full retirement age(FRA) is based on the year you were born. If you were born on January 1st, your FRA will be based on the year prior. 

Year of Birth

Full Retirement Age

1943 – 1954



66 + 2 months


66 + 4 months


66 + 6 months


66 + 8 months


66 + 10 months



As you can see, full retirement age is gradually being increased from 66, which it was for quite a while, to 67. 

Social Security full retirement age is not 65 anymore?

Many people are under the false assumption that their full retirement age is 65. While this age used to be 65, in 1983 this was changed.

Due to the fact that people were living longer and the Social Security budget needed to be balanced, President Regan and Congress passed the Social Security Amendments of 1983

These amendments are what have caused the gradual increase in full retirement age. 

Do note, the age you can start Medicare is still 65. You do not have to start your Social Security benefit when you start your Medicare. 

What does full retirement age mean?

You have 96 dates in which you can elect to start your Social Security check. These dates fall on the 1st of every month from age 62 through age 70. 

Full retirement age is the age in which you are entitled to 100% of your earned Social Security benefits. This is also referred to as your primary insurance amount, or PIA

If you take your benefits before your full retirement age, your check will be reduced. 

Say you were born in 1960, making your full retirement age 67. If you take your benefits at 62, your benefit will be reduced by 30% from your PIA.

Let’s say you had a PIA of  $2,000. If you start your benefits at age 62, your check is going to be reduced to $1,400. 

Taking your benefits after your full retirement age increases the benefits.

For every year you delay your benefits, your check increases by around 8%. If you waited until 70 to take your check, and your full retirement age was 67, your check would be increased by 24%. 

Do know that for spousal benefits, there are a little bit different rules. If you are claiming on your spouse and take benefits early, your check will be reduced. 

If you are claiming on a spouse, and take your benefits after your full retirement age, your benefit will not increase. The max benefit a spouse can receive is 50% of their partner’s PIA, which they reach at their full retirement age. 

Another point to note here is that if you are the higher-earning spouse, delaying your benefit will possibly give your spouse a higher benefit later. 

When one spouse dies, the living spouse gets to keep the larger of the 2 checks the couple was receiving. If the higher-earning spouse passes first, the surviving spouse can keep their larger check. 


It is crucial to make the right decision when it comes to starting your Social Security check. You do not get a redo. 

Cardinal can get you a free Social Security timing report to get your started. Fill out the box below or give us a call! 

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