Q & A: March/April 2020

Q & A: March/April 2020

What is the full retirement age for Social Security?

Q:  I turn 61 this year and I’m still employed.  I’ve read about waiting until my full retirement age before starting Social Security benefits.  Is that 66?  Do I enroll in Medicare at the same time I start Social Security?

A:  Social Security’s “full” retirement age is the age at which you qualify for full, un-reduced benefits.  It’s based on your date of birth, so it varies for everyone.  In 1983, Congress enacted changes that very gradually raised the full retirement age to age 67 by the year 2027.  The full retirement age for people born between 1943 and 1954 is 66.  For those born in 1955 it is 66 and 2 months and it goes up 2 months per year for those born between 1956 and 1959.  For people born in 1960 and thereafter, the full retirement age is 67.

Since you were born in 1959, your full retirement age is 66 and 10 months.  Starting benefits prior to your full retirement age will lower your monthly payments.  If you were to retire at age 62 instead of age 66 and 10 months, a $2,000 per month benefit would be permanently reduced to $1,416— a reduction of about 29.17%.  The longer you delay starting your benefit, the more you will receive.  But age 66 and 10 months is NOT your maximum benefit age.  Your maximum benefit comes at age 70, no matter when you were born.

If you delay starting benefits, past your full retirement age, your benefit will grow by 8% of the full retirement benefit amount per year until age 70, at which point your benefit would be about $2,507.  To learn more about your Social Security benefits, and to get estimates visit the Social Security Administration’s website at www.SSA.gov.

The age at which you should start Medicare Part B is still 65.  Failure to enroll on time can expose you to permanent delayed enrollment penalties, not only for Medicare Part B (doctors and outpatient services) but also for Part D (prescription drug coverage).  These penalties which can add 10% - 12% per year respectively to your Part B and Part D premiums for every year you miss enrollment deadlines, for the rest of the time you have Medicare.

To learn more about your enrollment deadlines for Medicare visit www.Medicare.gov.