The Shifting Retirement Age

In 1935, the original retirement age for Full Benefits was set at age 65. Why age 65? First, life expectancy in 1935 was at or about age 61, therefore the odds of collecting Social Security was slim to none. Secondly, Germany had the first Social Security system and that was the age they had chosen – so maybe the United States just wasn’t original. Thirdly, the Social Security Historian’s office stated that since railroad pensions and other state systems’ used age 65, it was a practical actuarial choice.

Whatever the reason, 65 remained the Full Retirement Age until 1983 when there were amendments to the Social Security Act. The explanations for the change were that people were living longer and that by raising the full retirement age saved the SSA money, putting the program on a sounder financial footing.

Then, in 1956, age 62 was introduced as the EARLY retirement age for women and the same was extended to men in 1961. This is retained in the present law; however, benefits are cut for taking early.

We still see people filing at age 62 each day – because they are eligible they take the benefit. By doing this, they usually do not realize the consequences – reducing their benefit from 25-30%, eliminating claiming strategies that improve their income stream, reducing the Survivor Benefit, having to deal with Earnings Limitations if still working to name just a few. These are serious consequences that can in most cases be eliminated with just a little planning and flexibility.

The Social Security office is there to take your order based on your benefit amount. Their job is not to look at your benefits and give you advice about the best way to file. With very few exceptions, people do not realize that the Social Security office does not know if you are married, single, divorced, if your ex-spouse was drawing disability, if you have two children under the age of 18, if you also worked for the railroad and have a different set of rules to follow, if you had another job that did not require you to pay SS taxes, if you are entitled to a Spousal Boost or claiming strategy, and the list goes on. You need to have all these questions answered and your options calculated before going to file.

Pillars LLC is in the Corinth, MS area but service all 50 states. Roy and Diane are both National Social Security Advisors and Roy is a former CPA of over 40 years. You may contact them at, on their website at or call at 601-954-0699. KNOW before you GO!!

Posted on by Pillars LLC

Add a Comment