As of 2015, the earliest age at which a person can begin to claim Social Security benefits is 62 years old. However, individuals who claim money this early are liable to lose up to 25 percent of their total Social Security benefits.
The earliest age at which individuals can claim full retirement with no penalty is between 65 and 67 years old, depending on when the individual was born. Those born earlier can take full retirement at an earlier age. The penalty for taking an early retirement also extends to retirement benefits afforded to spouses and dependents, reducing the total amount of benefits a household receives, not just the retiree's benefits.