Early retirement ? Here is the best social security income at 62

More than one in five Americans claims Social Security benefits at 62, the youngest possible age. If you plan to be one of them, know that the maximum you can collect in Social Security income at that age this year is $ 2,324 per month.

Qualifying for this amount is difficult, however. Social Security is based on your historical income and pocketing the maximum at age 62 requires a work record of 35 years of income above the annual payroll tax limit. This is a big demand considering that the payroll tax limit is $ 142,800 in 2021. For this reason, your social security check at 62 is much more likely to be below the maximum, which makes it more attractive. to wait until full retirement age or later. to claim benefits.


Claiming early means a big penalty

Yes, you can claim Social Security at age 62, and there are good reasons many retirees choose to do so. For some, pretending to be younger allows for a more active lifestyle, and for others with health complications, this may be the best strategy to receive the most benefits possible in life.

Claiming early, however, comes at a high cost. The calculation of Social Security income is designed to replace around 40% of average pre-retirement income, but this is only true if the beneficiary waits to claim benefits at full retirement age (FRA) , which ranges between 66 and 67 for Americans born after 1954. If you apply for benefits at age 62, you may see a reduction of up to 30% in your monthly benefit amount due to the filing penalty. anticipated.

Amounts of benefit reduction at age 62
Full retirement age Reduction
66 25%
66 and 2 months 25.83%
66 and 4 months 26.67%
66 and 6 months 27.50%
66 and 8 months 28.33%
66 and 10 months 29.17%
67 30%


The trick to getting the maximum at 62

To qualify for the highest possible payout at age 62, you need to accomplish several things. First, you must have a 35-year work history with income subject to payroll taxes, and second, you must have income at or above the payroll tax limit for each of those years.

Why? Because Social Security determines your monthly benefit by adjusting your highest 35 years of income for inflation, then calculating your average earnings over that period. Work under 35 and Social Security uses zeros in its calculation for those years, preventing you from getting the maximum benefit. Likewise, earn less than the maximum subject to payroll tax in each of those 35 years, and you won’t qualify either.

If you can be flexible, patience pays

In 2021, the maximum amount you can receive in benefits if you claim at age 62 is $ 2,324, but if you qualify for the maximum and your full retirement age is 66, wait until then. to start your benefits entitles you to $ 3,113 per month. It’s a big increase to wait five years or less to file for Social Security.

Your patience earns you even more money if you can wait up to 70 years to claim because of late retirement credits. These credits increase your benefit amount by 2/3 of 1% for each month beyond your FRA that you delay, up to age 70. This equates to an 8% annual reward just for your patience. As a perspective, the maximum Social Security for people age 70 claiming Social Security this year is $ 3,895, which is 67.6% more than the maximum payable to a person claiming this year who is 62.

Maximum social security if you retire in 2021
Age Per month Per year
62 $ 2,324 $ 27,888
66 $ 3,113 $ 37,356
70 $ 3,895 $ 46,740


Of course, when to apply for Social Security is a personal decision that depends on your health, retirement goals, sources of retirement income, and expenses. However, if you want the maximum social security possible, it might make more sense to suspend the claim at 62, even if you are not entitled to the largest monthly benefit.

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