A 62-year old individual who has earned the compulsory 40 credits is eligible to apply for Social Security benefits before the full retirement age. Depending on the person's birth year, full retirement age is between 65 and 67. Early retirees receive a corresponding percentage decrease in their monthly Social Security checks based on their full retirement age.
The percentage reduction in the monthly claims of an early retiree takes into consideration the extended duration the person receives Social Security benefits. For example, an individual born before 1938 with a monthly claim of $2,000 only receives $1,600 at the age of 62 until his full retirement age of 65, as of February 2015. A corresponding spousal benefit of $1,000 is reduced by 25 percent, amounting to only $750 dollars per month.