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Reaching Retirement Age? Here’s What You Need to Know

By Vonda Vantil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

Every birthday deserves celebration, but some seem a little more special than others do. Think of a baby’s first birthday. Sweet 16. The “Big 4-0.” Then, before you know it, along comes 65, a milestone especially important to retirees.

For nearly half a century, American workers looked to 65 as the age at which they could stop working and finally reap their full retirement benefits under the Social Security Act of 1935.

Today, however, the full retirement age is increasing based on your year of birth.  In 1983, Congress changed the law to increase the retirement age over a 22-year period, citing improvements in the health of older people and increases in average life expectancy. To find out your full retirement age, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire/ageincrease.html.

Of course, if you’re insured for retirement benefits, you still can claim them as early as age 62 but your monthly payments are permanently reduced for each month that you file prior to your full retirement age.

For help in deciding which age is right for you to start receiving Social Security retirement benefits, read “When to Start Receiving Retirement Benefits” at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10147.pdf.

We have also made applying for benefits easier than ever. You can do it online! To apply for benefits, please go to www.socialsecurity.gov/applyforbenefits.

That said, age 65 should still factor in prominently as you prepare for retirement and a stable financial future because that’s when most American workers first become eligible for Medicare health insurance coverage.

To see if you’ve earned enough credits through work to qualify for Medicare at age 65, view your Social Security Statement online using your personal my Social Security account. Create or log on to your account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

If you’re already receiving Social Security benefits before age 65, we’ll automatically enroll you in Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (supplemental medical insurance) effective the first day of the month you turn 65. Watch your mailbox a few months before your birthday for your Medicare card. Otherwise, three months before your 65th birthday, you can apply for Medicare Parts A and B online at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyforbenefits.

Your Initial Enrollment Period for Medicare starts three months before your 65th birthday month and continues for three months after. To learn more about Medicare enrollment and coverage, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/medicare. To learn more about Medicare coverage, visit www.medicare.gov.

Vonda VanTil is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan.  You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov 


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