by Jane Yamamoto-Burigsay, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Hawai‘i

Enjoying a comfortable retirement is every-one’s dream. For over 80 years, Social Security (SS) has been helping people realize those dreams, assisting them through life’s journey with a variety of benefits. It’s up to you as to when you can start retirement benefits. You could start them a little earlier or wait until your “full retirement age.” There are perks to both…

Full retirement age refers to the age when a person can receive their SS benefits without any reduction, even if they are still working part- or full-time. You don’t actually need to stop working to get your full benefits.

For people who reach age 62 in 2017 (i.e., those born between Jan. 2, 1955, and Jan. 1, 1956), full retirement age is 66 and two months. Full retirement age was age 65 for many years. However, due to a law passed by Congress in 1983, it has been gradually increasing, beginning with people born in 1938 or later, until it reaches 67 for people born after 1959.

Learn more about the full retirement age and find out how to look up your own online at

You can start receiving SS benefits as early as age 62… or any time after that. The longer you wait, the higher your monthly benefit will be, although it stops increasing at age 70. Your monthly benefits will be reduced permanently if you start them any time before your full retirement age. For example, if you start receiving benefits in 2017 at age 62, your monthly benefit amount will be reduced permanently by about 26 percent.

But, if you wait to start receiving your benefits until after your full retirement age, your monthly benefit will be higher. The amount of this increase is two-thirds of one percent for each month — or 8 percent for each year — that you delay receiving them until you reach age 70. The choices you make may affect any benefit your spouse or children can receive on your record, too. If you receive benefits early, it may reduce their potential benefit, as well as yours.

Be as informed as possible when making any decision about receiving SS benefits. Read “When to Start Receiving Retirement Benefits” at

If you decide to receive benefits before you reach full retirement age, you should also understand how continuing to work can affect your benefits. SS may withhold or reduce your benefits if your annual earnings exceed a certain amount. However, for every month benefits are withheld, your future benefits increase. At your full retirement age, SS will recalculate your benefit amount to give you credit for the months they were reduced or withheld. Learn more at

Visit the SS Retirement Planner online at

For questions, online applications or to make an appointment to visit a SSA office, call from 7am–7pm, Mon–Fri:
1-800-772-1213 (toll free)  |  1-800-325-0778 (TTY)