What is Full Retirement Age: A Comprehensive Guide

Understanding full retirement age: definition, explanation & guide to maximize benefits

What is Full Retirement Age?

Full Retirement Age (FRA), also known as “normal retirement age,” is a term used in the realm of economics and finance, specifically in relation to social security benefits. It refers to the age at which a person becomes eligible to receive full, unreduced retirement benefits from Social Security. The concept of full retirement age is crucial as it determines when an individual can access their full social security benefits.

Understanding Full Retirement Age

The Full Retirement Age varies depending on the year of birth of the individual. For those born in 1937 or earlier, the FRA is 65. However, for those born after 1937, the FRA gradually increases until it reaches 67 for individuals born in 1960 or later. This gradual increase was introduced as part of the Social Security Amendments of 1983, in response to increasing life expectancies.

How Full Retirement Age Affects Social Security Benefits

The full retirement age plays a significant role in determining the amount of social security benefits an individual receives. If a person chooses to start receiving benefits before reaching their FRA, the benefit amount will be reduced. Conversely, if they delay receiving benefits until after their FRA, the benefit amount will increase.

Why Full Retirement Age Matters

Understanding your full retirement age is essential for retirement planning. It allows you to make informed decisions about when to start receiving social security benefits based on your personal circumstances and financial needs.

Early Retirement vs. Delayed Retirement

Choosing to retire before reaching your FRA will result in a permanent reduction in your monthly benefits. This reduction can be significant over the course of your retirement. On the other hand, if you delay retirement until after your FRA, your benefits will increase by a certain percentage until you reach age 70. This is known as delayed retirement credits.

How to Determine Your Full Retirement Age

The Social Security Administration provides a retirement age calculator that can help you determine your FRA. You simply need to enter your year of birth, and the calculator will provide your FRA.


Understanding the concept of full retirement age is crucial for effective retirement planning. It allows you to make informed decisions about when to start receiving social security benefits, which can significantly impact your financial security in retirement. Therefore, it’s important to consider your FRA and how it affects your benefits when planning for retirement.


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