The age at which one claims Social Security affects the amount of benefit received. Key claiming ages are 62, Full Retirement Age (FRA is currently 66 and 10 months for individuals turning 62 in 2021) and 70, as shown in the row of ages in the middle of the slide. The top three graphs show the three most common ages an individual is likely to claim and the monthly benefit he or she would receive at those ages assuming maximum wages have been earned for 35 years. Claiming at the latest age (70) provides the highest monthly amount but delays receipt of the benefit for 8 years. Claiming at Full Retirement Age, 66 and 10 months, or 62 years old provides lesser amounts at earlier ages. The gray shading between the bar charts represents the ages at which waiting until a later claim age results in greater cumulative benefits than the earlier age. This is called the “breakeven age.” The breakeven age between taking benefits at age 62 and FRA is age 77 and between FRA and 70 is 81. Along the bottom of the page, the percentages show the probability that a man, woman or one member of a married couple currently age 62 will live to the specified ages or beyond. Comparing these percentages against the breakeven ages will help a beneficiary make an informed decision about when to claim Social Security if maximizing the cumulative benefit received is a primary goal.
Note that while the benefits shown are for a high-income earner who pays the maximum in Social Security taxes each year (income of $137,700 in 2020), the breakeven ages would be true for those at other income levels.