When should I file for Social Security?

Social Security gives you:

  • Guaranteed lifetime income
  • Benefits that are adjusted for inflation
  • Survivor benefits
  • Preferential tax treatment compared with ordinary income

When can you file?

You can start getting Social Security as early as 62 (with a potential reduction in benefits by 30%).1 When you hit full retirement age (FRA) you can get Social Security without a penalty. The age varies based on the year and month you were born.


How is Social Security calculated?

It’s based on your lifetime Social Security earnings & adjusted for inflation. The basic formula is the total of your highest 35 years of adjusted earnings divided by 420 (the number of months in 35 years) equals your monthly average earnings. Your benefits are determined using this amount, and the maximum benefit cap. The monthly amount you receive if you file at your FRA is called the Primary Insurance amount (PIA).

Eligible for 100% of benefits

1937-1954 66
1955 66 + 2 months
1956 66 + 4 months
1957 66 + 6 months
1958 66 + 8 months
1959 66 + 10 months
1960-later 67
Delaying benefits can increase your monthly benefit by 24 percent. At age 62 your percent of PIA would be 70 percent. At age 63 your percent of PIA would be 75 percent. At age 64 your percent of PIA would be 80 percent. At age 65 your percent of PIA would be 86 percent. At age 66 your percent of PIA would be 93 percent. At age 67 your percent of PIA would be 100 percent. At age 68 your percent of PIA would be 108 percent. At age 69 your percent of PIA would be 116 percent. At age 70 your percent of PIA would be 124 percent.

[1] SSA.gov, based on filing between age 62 and FRA.
[2] Source: SS Supplement 2018. Table 6.B5, Social Security Administration, 2017 calendar year.

Neither Nationwide nor its representatives give legal or tax advice. Please consult your attorney or tax advisor for answers to your specific tax questions.