Social Security retirement benefits are lower for individuals who elect to begin receiving benefits before the age of 62, and higher for those who delay taking benefits until after full retirement age, according to the Social Security Administration. Early retirement benefits can be taken at age 62.
As of 2015, when workers elect to take Social Security retirement benefits before reaching the full retirement age, they receive a reduction in benefits of five-ninths of 1 percent for each month of early retirement, up to 36 months, the SSA notes. Additional months of early retirement beyond 36 incur a benefit reduction of five-twelfths of 1 percent per month. For example, if a Social Security recipient retired at age 62 and had a full-retirement age of 67, the total reduction in benefits for that individual is 30 percent.
Conversely, delayed retirement credit is given to those who elect to take their benefits after the normal retirement age. The percentage of credit given for delayed retirement is based on the year of the recipient's birth. For example, as of 2015, recipients born in 1950 receive an 8 percent increase in their benefit payments per year they delay retirement, up to age 70. Since the normal retirement age for individuals born in 1950 is 66, recipients in this age bracket increase their Social Security benefits by 32 percent if they delay receiving benefits until age 70.