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Social Security Retirement Benefits

Posted on:12/21/2011
Workers born before 1938 are eligible for full retirement benefits, 100 percent of the "primary insurance amount" (PIA), at age 65. For all people born after 1959, the full retirement age will be 67.

Workers may elect to start Social Security benefits at the earliest age - age 62 - and by doing so accept a reduction in all future Social Security checks to make up for the extra years of receiving benefits. Alternatively, workers may wait until age 65 to receive what SSA calls "full benefits" or plan to receive a monthly benefit that has been permanently increased beyond "full benefits" for delaying retirement past age 65.


Most retirees begin receiving benefits before age 65. If a person claims benefits early whether by choice or because of unemployment or ill health (but not disability), the benefits are permanently reduced for each month of retirement before the full retirement age.


Special minimum benefits is an alternative way of computing the PIA, is designed to help workers who worked consistently at low-wage in jobs covered by Social Security. It results in higher benefit than the person would have received under the regular benefit formula.


Family members of retired and disabled workers may be eligible for an entirely different set of benefits, known as auxiliary benefits, although there is a ceiling, called the family maximum, on the amount of benefits that can be paid on a worker's earning record. By keeping a family's retirement income below the income it received before retirement, this family maximum provision eliminates a disincentive that may cause productive people to retire instead.

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