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December 13, 1999

Cathy Noe/ John Trollinger/Carolyn Cheezum

For Immediate Release

410-965-8904 FAX 410-966-9973

Social Security Online


News Release

Congressionally Mandated Changes
to Retirement Benefits Set to
Take Effect in 2000

The normal retirement age for Social Security is set to increase for 150 million working Americans beginning in January 2000. Although 62 remains the earliest age at which individuals can retire and collect reduced benefits, the age for collecting full Social Security benefits will gradually increase from age 65 to 67 over a 22-year period. For those born in 1938 (age 62 in 2000) the new retirement age is 65 and 2 months. The increase in the retirement age was included in the Social Security Amendments of 1983.

"Deciding when to retire is probably one of the toughest and most important decisions American workers have to make," Social Security Commissioner Kenneth S. Apfel said. "Because it is so important, it is crucial for workers to have all the facts regarding the impact of their retirement decision on their current and future Social Security benefit."

The increase in the full retirement age begins with individuals born in 1938 whose normal retirement age will be 65 and 2 months. The age increases in two-month increments for workers born between 1939 and 1943 until the retirement age reaches 66 and remains there for all workers born through 1954. For those born after 1954, the retirement age begins to increase again in two-month increments until it reaches age 67 for those born in 1960 or later.

An additional provision of the 1983 law will give workers who continue working, and delay collecting Social Security benefits until after their normal retirement age, higher benefits. The amount of the increase, known as the "delayed retirement credit," is determined by a set percentage and increases the longer retirement is delayed. Currently, workers born in 1938 who delay retirement receive a 6.5% credit for each year they do not collect benefits. The yearly credit will increase to 8% for those born in 1943 or later. For individuals who work a partial year, the yearly percentage is broken into monthly increments. The increase stops at age 70, regardless of when a worker starts collecting benefits.

"Social Security benefits are the foundation of most Americans’ retirement," Commissioner Kenneth S. Apfel said. "And it’s important that everyone know how the retirement choices they make can have an impact on their benefits."

In October, the Social Security Administration began mailing Social Security Statements to all workers age 25 and older not receiving Social Security benefits. The statement tells workers their full retirement age and provides a retirement benefit estimate for age 62, full retirement age, and age 70.

"The Social Security Statement is a valuable financial planning tool that will help Americans prepare for their long term financial security," Commissioner Apfel said. "It’s never too early to start retirement planning, but it can be too late!"

SSA’s website,, provides more information on the increase in the retirement age, including an interactive feature that allows browsers to look up their own retirement age.

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