The Motley Fool Reveals the Median Social Security Benefit at Age 62

The Motley Fool Reveals the Median Social Security Benefit at Age 62

You can start collecting Social Security benefits as early as 62. But you won’t be eligible for your full benefit until you reach full retirement age, which is 67 for anyone born in 1960 or later.

Collecting benefits as soon as you’re eligible may be tempting after paying into Social Security for several decades. But taking Social Security early will permanently reduce the size of your monthly checks.

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What’s the average Social Security benefit at 62?

The average Social Security benefit at 62 for a retired worker was $1,298 as of December 2023, according to the Social Security Administration. That works out to $15,576 per year.

Men received an average monthly benefit of $1,439, or $17,268 annually. The average monthly benefit for women was $1,167, or $14,004 per year.

Beneficiaries received a 3.2% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in January 2024. After applying this increase, the average 62-year-old would receive a monthly benefit of $1,339, or $16,068 annually.

For men, the 3.2% COLA would increase the average check to $1,485, or $17,820 per year. For women, the average check likely rose to $1,204, or $14,448 per year.

These amounts are significantly lower than what you’d get if you waited to claim Social Security. When you start checks at age 62, your monthly benefit is 30% lower than you’d get at full retirement age.

That’s because Social Security reduces your benefits by five-ninths of 1% per month for each of the first 36 months of early claiming, which works out to 6.66% per year. For each additional month you claim early, your benefit is reduced by five-twelfths of 1% per month, or 5% per year.

On the flip side, waiting past full retirement age can have a big payoff. Social Security gives you 8% delayed retirement credits for each year you wait beyond your full retirement age until age 70. Claiming at 70 versus 62 will increase your benefit by about 77%. Of course, the trade-off is that you’ll get fewer checks over your lifetime.

What’s the maximum benefit at 62?

The maximum monthly Social Security benefit for someone retiring at 62 was $2,710 as of January 2024. However, it’s safe to assume that not many 62-year-olds actually receive $2,710 a month.

To score the maximum benefit, you’d not only need a work history of at least 35 years, but you’d also need to earn at least Social Security’s maximum taxable earnings for each of those 35 years. In 2024, that amount is $168,600, up from $160,200 in 2023.

The maximum monthly benefit increases substantially the longer you wait. If you’re starting benefits at full retirement age in 2024, your maximum benefit is $3,822 per month. For someone retiring at age 70 this year, monthly benefits are as high as $4,873.

Can you undo your decision to start Social Security early?

Unfortunately, your options are pretty limited if you start Social Security and later regret your decision. Social Security essentially gives you two options for a do-over.

If it’s been less than 12 months since you started collecting, you can submit a request in writing to withdraw your claim. However, you’ll need to repay any money you received from Social Security. You can then reapply for benefits at a later date.

If you’re at least full retirement age but haven’t celebrated your 70th birthday yet, you can also ask Social Security to suspend your benefit. You can then earn delayed retirement credits while your benefits are on pause. You’re allowed to reinstate your benefits at any time, but if you don’t do so by the time you turn 70, Social Security will automatically restart them.

The bottom line: It’s difficult to reverse your Social Security claiming decision. Be cautious before starting benefits early, especially if you’re still able to work and have the luxury to delay.

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