As of 2014, the earliest a person may receive Social Security benefits is age 62, but she receives a reduction in her benefits if she starts at that age. The age someone receives her full benefits is the full retirement age, determined by the date on which she was born.
An individual can decide to wait to receive Social Security benefits until she receives her full benefits. Choosing to receive benefits before the full retirement age carries a benefit reduction that increases based on how far she is from full retirement age. Individuals who decide to wait until full retirement may be eligible to receive an increase in their monthly benefits by receiving delayed-retirement credits.