When Do Most Americans Claim Social Security?

Most Americans claim Social Security retirement benefits before reaching their full retirement age. In fact, 54% of men and 61% of women claimed their benefits early in 2015, the most recent year for which complete data is available. Here’s a breakdown of the data, and what claiming Social Security early (or late) could mean to you.

When do Americans claim their Social Security benefits?

Of those who don’t claim benefits before full retirement age, most claim benefits exactly at full retirement age.

A Social Security is mixed in with bills of currency.
Image source: Getty Images.

In other words, the vast majority of Americans don’t delay Social Security beyond their full retirement age. Of the roughly 2.8 million Americans who claimed Social Security retirement benefits in 2015, here’s a breakdown of their ages when they started collecting their monthly payments.

Age

% of Men Claiming

% of Women Claiming

62

32%

37%

63

6%

7%

64

6%

7%

65 to full retirement age

10%

10%

Full retirement age

34%

28%

67-69

9%

7%

70

3%

5%

Data source: Social Security Administration 2016 Statistical Supplement. Percentages may not add to exactly 100% because of rounding.

Also, it’s important to mention that in the table, the percentage of Americans claiming Social Security at their full retirement age is deceptively high. Specifically, people who receive Social Security disability benefits automatically transition to retirement benefits at full retirement age — they don’t have a choice in the matter.

When you only consider people who chose their Social Security claiming age, we find that an even greater percentage claimed before full retirement age — 64% of men and 72% of women.

What is your full retirement age?

Full retirement age, also known as normal retirement age, for Social Security purposes depends on the year you were born.

If you were born in 1954 or earlier, your full retirement age is 66. If you were born in 1960 or later, your full retirement age is 67. And finally, if you were born from 1955 to 1959, your full retirement…

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