Retirement Planning Birthdays: Age 65 & Social Security

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BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Current thinking has 65 as the normal retirement age and that’s because at one time a worker could collect full Social Security benefits at age 65. No more. Full benefits age is now 67.

But Medicare, the health insurance for retirees, still starts at age 65. Even though you are not going to start your Social Security benefit, you need to sign up for Medicare; you have the three months before your 65th birthday even if you are still working. You will also need to figure out part D, which is the prescription drug program and what Medigap insurance to buy to cover what medical costs Medicare does not provide.

Congress made some changes to the Social Security benefits back in the 80s in hopes of making the reserves last longer. The retirement age to collect full Social Security benefits was increased to age 67. Congress didn’t want to impact those close to retirement so those changes are being phased in until anyone born in 1960 or later will have to be age 67 to collect their full Social Security benefits.

If you were born before 1954 your full Social Security retirement age is 66. If you were born in 1952 you will turn 66 this year and you will be able to collect full benefits this year.

If you were born between 1954 and 1960 it gets a bit more complicated, you will need to add 2 months for every year after 1954. For example if you were born in 1957 your full social security age would be 66 and six months. Check our website for a chart to help you figure out your full Social Security retirement age.

Now you can still start to collect your Social Security benefits early, as early as age 62, but you will receive a lesser amount, about 25% less. And if you have begun to collect early benefits that lower percentage never changes even when you reach your full retirement age. If you are widowed you can begin reduced benefits at age 60.

Check out Social Security’s website for help. You can apply for benefits on line.

One more thing:  If you begin collecting benefits before your full retirement age and continue to work, you could lose some of your future benefits if you earn more than a certain amount a year. For this year, if you’re under your full retirement age, you’ll lose $1 for every $2 in earnings over $17,040. That could be painful for Social Security withholds the dollars the following year and you may not be able to work to make up the difference in your lower Social Security benefit.

Social Security Benefits

Year Born                          Age you can collect full benefits

1937 or earlier                   65                            

1938                                  65 and 2 months      

1939                                  65 and 4 months      

1940                                  65 and 6 months      

1941                                  65 and 8 months      

1942                                  65 and 10 months    

1943–1954                        66                            

1955                                  66 and 2 months      

1956                                  66 and 4 months      

1957                                  66 and 6 months      

1958                                  66 and 8 months      

1959                                  66 and 10 months    

 1960 & later                     67

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