Social Security Benefits: Determining Your Full Retirement Age

You are eligible to receive Social Security retirement benefits when you reach age 62. However, this is considered the "old age" threshold, and it is not the "full retirement age" threshold. If you receive benefits between ages 62 and the full retirement age of 70, the benefits will be proportionally lower. Additionally, if you wait to claim benefits until age 70, you will receive a credit for each month you were eligible but chose not to apply for benefits.

Determining Eligibility

You are eligible for RIB (Retirement Insurance Benefits) if you meet two criteria: first, you must be fully insured under Social Security; second, you must have reached the minimum retirement age of 62. To be fully insured, you must participate in quarters of coverage. A quarter of coverage (QC) is a period in which you contribute to the Social Security tax from your earned income. The number of QCs you participate in may vary, but you must participate in between 6 and 40, and you must participate in at least one QC each year after you turn 21. If you have reached age 62 and are fully insured, you may apply for your benefits. Wait until age 70 if possible, however, to receive the highest benefits.

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