People can apply for social security retirement benefits from the age of 62 until they are 70, reports the Social Security Administration. Claiming benefits before full retirement age reduces monthly benefit amounts, while waiting until after full retirement age increases benefits.
Full retirement age is the age at which people receive 100 percent of the Social Security retirement benefits due them, according to Bankrate. Although full retirement age used to be 65 for everyone, it is 65 only for those born before 1938, as of 2015. For others, it is between 65 and 67, depending on year of birth. Those who elect to retire early at age 62 permanently lose from 25 to 30 percent of their monthly benefits, states the Social Security Administration. If they instead wait until the maximum age of 70, they can receive over 30 percent more than the full retirement age amount. After age 70, delayed retirement credits no longer affect benefit amounts.
Most people, especially those who have not saved enough for retirement, should delay claiming Social Security retirement benefits as long as possible, recommends Bankrate. People who live to average life expectancy receive the same amount of benefits overall regardless of the time they begin to receive the benefits, states the Social Security Administration. Retirees should look at current financial status, history of family longevity, other sources of retirement income and plans to continue working while assessing when to apply for Social Security retirement benefits.