Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
83% of Americans Don't Know This Crucial Retirement Number
AP

83% of Americans Don't Know This Crucial Retirement Number

{{featured_button_text}}
83% of Americans Don't Know This Crucial Retirement Number

There's a strong chance Social Security will wind up playing an important role in your retirement. Maybe you'll need that money to cover your essential bills, like housing and healthcare. Or maybe you'll kick off your senior years with enough money in a savings plan to tackle your basic expenses, but you'll need Social Security to pay for things like travel and entertainment.

Either way, it's important to get as much out of your benefits as you can. But if you're misinformed about Social Security, you could wind up locking in a lower monthly benefit for life.

Such is the risk most Americans are taking today. Only 17% of people are able to correctly identify their full retirement age (FRA) for Social Security purposes, according to a recent Fidelity survey. That means most are in the dark about when they're entitled to receive their benefit in full -- and they risk signing up at the wrong time as a result.

Image source: Getty Images.

What full retirement age means to you

Your monthly Social Security benefit is calculated based on your average monthly wage, adjusted for inflation, over your 35 highest-paid years in the labor force. You're then entitled to claim that monthly benefit once you reach FRA.

FRA depends on the year you were born, as per the following table:

Year of Birth

Full Retirement Age

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 or later

67

Data source: Social Security Administration.

You're allowed to sign up for Social Security before reaching FRA (eligibility begins at age 62), but for each month you file early, your monthly benefit will be reduced on a permanent basis. Claim Social Security at 62 with an FRA of 67, for example, and your monthly benefit will take a 30% hit.

It's for this reason that it's so important to know your FRA before you sign up for benefits. Furthermore, knowing your FRA can help you better plan for retirement in general.

In the aforementioned survey, 44% of Gen Xers underestimated their FRA of 67. But doing so could throw off your retirement plans, because if you think you're entitled to your full monthly Social Security benefit at age 65 only to discover that's not the case, you might need to scramble to readjust.

Incidentally, you're also allowed to delay your Social Security claim beyond your FRA. For each year you do, your benefits will grow 8%, up until you reach the age of 70. So if your FRA is 67, for example, you have an opportunity to boost those benefits by up to 24%.

Whether you're planning to file for Social Security in your early 60s, mid-60s, late 60s, or age 70, be sure to learn your FRA and use it to inform your decision.

And while you're at it, spend some time reading up on how Social Security works to put yourself in an even better position to make the right call. The program is packed with rules and nuances that can help or hurt you, depending on how you look at it, so boosting your Social Security knowledge is an important step in retirement planning.

The $16,728 Social Security bonus most retirees completely overlook

If you're like most Americans, you're a few years (or more) behind on your retirement savings. But a handful of little-known "Social Security secrets" could help ensure a boost in your retirement income. For example: one easy trick could pay you as much as $16,728 more... each year! Once you learn how to maximize your Social Security benefits, we think you could retire confidently with the peace of mind we're all after. Simply click here to discover how to learn more about these strategies.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

You must be logged in to react.
Click any reaction to login.
0
0
0
0
0

The business news you need

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

  • Updated

When it comes to racking up travel rewards, it’s important to consider business credit cards in addition to personal ones. Business credit cards extend many of the same benefits as personal credit cards, such as lucrative welcome bonuses, day-of-travel perks like free checked bags or lounge access, and the opportunity to earn bonus points or […]

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alert

Breaking News