Social Security offers retirement benefits as early as age 62 at a reduced rate, so by the age of 64, people looking to take retirement benefits do so at a rate reduced by 13.3 percent. Full retirement age is age 66 or older.
When starting Social Security benefits early, the benefits are reduced based on the number of months before full retirement age the person begins receiving benefits. At the age of 62, retirement benefits are reduced by 25 percent; at age 63 the benefits are reduced by 20 percent, and at age 65, benefits are reduced by 6.7 percent.
Full retirement age is over the age of 66 for people born after 1954. For those born after 1960 or later, the benefit may be reduced up to a maximum of 30 percent. If a person works after receiving benefits, Social Security may withhold some benefits if the person has excess earnings. However, a special rule that applies to earnings for one year decrees that Social Security cannot withhold benefits for any month in which the Social Security considers the individual retired, regardless of his yearly earnings. After the individual reaches full retirement age, Social Security recalculates the benefit amount to give credit for months the individual did not receive benefits.