You can start collecting your Social Security retirement payouts beginning at age 62. You must start collecting payouts prior to age 70 though. This leaves you with an 8 year window to start collecting your benefits.
If you retire prior to age 62, just make sure you have enough retirement income to cover the years before your benefits kick in.
The longer you wait to start collecting your Social Security retirement benefits, the larger those payouts will be. You’re probably asking yourself “why?” In order to receive the full retirement payout you’ve worked your whole life to earn, the government makes you wait until you’ve reached the “full retirement age.”
The full retirement age varies based on when you were born. The full retirement age used to be 65, but in 1983 Congress voted to raise the age to 67 for individuals born in 1960 or later. To find out your full retirement age visit http://www.ssa.gov/retire2/retirechart.htm
As a general rule, early or late retirement will give you about the same total Social Security benefits over your lifetime.
If you retire early, the monthly benefit amounts will be smaller to take into account the longer period you will receive them. If you retire late, you will get benefits for a shorter period of time but the monthly amounts will be larger to make up for the months when you did not receive anything.
There are advantages and disadvantages to taking your benefit before your full retirement age. The advantage is that you collect benefits for a longer period of time. The disadvantage is your benefit is reduced.
Once a year, the Social Security Administration will send you your annual benefits statement. In the statement, it will illustrate how much money you would receive in benefits if you wait until your full retirement age.
You can also estimate your benefit amount by using the Social Security Administrations calculator. You can access this at: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/estimator.htm
Keep in mind, that the younger you are, the less accurate your estimate will be, because your future earnings will play an important role