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When Can Social Security Benefits Begin?

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Image by freakgirl via Flickr

As you’re nearing the point when you are planning to receive your Social Security benefits, it may occur to you to question just when do these milestones take effect?  Just when are you considered first eligible for benefits, when are you at Full Retirement Age, and when have you reached the maximum age?

For Social Security age purposes, the month of your birthdate is important – but that’s not the date at which you reach the milestone.  It’s actually the month after your birthday, the month when you are that particular age for the entire month.

For example, if your birthdate is January 15, 1950, you will actually reach age 62 on January 15, 2012 – but you’ll be eligible for benefits beginning with February of 2012.  Likewise, since your Full Retirement Age is 66, you will reach Full Retirement Age by Social Security’s records as of February, 2016.  You’ll also reach the maximum benefit age of 70 (for Social Security’s purposes) as of February, 2020.

The only time that this doesn’t follow is when your birthdate is the first of the month.  For Social Security purposes, when you have the first of the month as your birthdate, you are considered as having the month prior as your birth month.  See When Your Birthday Isn’t Your Birthday for more information.

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  1. TimNo Gravatar says:

    In the article ‘when your birthday isn’t your birthday’, you wrote “In the case of a date of birth being January 1, your Birth Month is December, and your Birth Year is the year prior to your actual birth.”

    So if I were 66 on January 1st 2019, then for SSN benefits, I would really be 66 in 2018, and could apply for full retirement age benefits in 2018?


    1. jblankenshipNo Gravatar says:

      Yes, Tim. You’ve got it right – but keep in mind this only changes your application by 1 month, not a full year. You are entitled to benefits in the month that you reach Full Retirement Age, not the year that you reach FRA.