When can you retire? Whenever you want, when you think about it. But generally speaking, there is a “retirement age” in the U.S., and we tend to associate it with the age at which we’re eligible for Social Security benefits.
Retirement age can be much earlier, of course, assuming you’ve accumulated enough resources to get you through the rest of your life. But for most people, Social Security is going to be a crucial part of their post-work lives, as it gives them some reliable income – although likely not enough income – with which to pay their bills.
As such, retirement age is different for everybody, but there is an age that we tend to associate with it.
What is the Retirement Age in the U.S.?
The retirement age in the U.S. is 66 or 67 years old.
Well, usually. While you can apply to start receiving Social Security benefits at an earlier age (62 is currently the lowest limit), many people wait a few years to increase their potential benefits. Per the government, if you were born between 1943 and 1954, the “full retirement age” is 66. If you were born after 1960, it’s 67.
Again, when and if you retire is really up to you. If you’ve made enough money – and saved and invested it, of course – you can retire much earlier. You won’t, however, be eligible for Social Security benefits. That’s the key difference. You can still apply for those benefits once you do reach the age of eligibility, but not before.
If you retire before you’re in your sixties, you’re on your own.
Why is the Retirement Age Important?
Retirement age comes into play with our financial plan because it gives us an end date that we can strive for. While you may be able to retire earlier, most people will need to plan for a date at which they’ll need to stop working – maybe they can’t physically hack it anymore, or maybe they will be eligible for Social Security or a pension.
It bears repeating, though: When you retire will depend on your individual circumstances. You may be eligible for a pension that allows you to retire much earlier. You may get hurt that forces you to stop working. There are a lot of things to consider.
But in terms of the significance of retirement age, knowing an end date for when you plan to stop working can help you work out how much money you’ll need to save up to pay for your lifestyle into your golden years.
Whether it’s 66, 67, or 30, keeping a retirement age in mind when compiling a financial plan is critical.
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