Just as there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to fund your retirement, there isn't a perfect age at which to retire. The Social Security Administration has an official definition for normal requirement age, but circumstances force workers to create their own.
Your work history entitles you to Social Security pension, but you only get it when you reach its normal retirement age (NRA). Your NRA varies by the year in which you were born. For everyone born in 1960 or later, the NRA is 67. It's 65 for those born in or before 1937 and 66 for anyone born between 1943 and 1954. Retirement age slowly edges up from 65 for those born between 1938 and 1942, and gradually increases from 66 to 67 for anyone born between 1955 and 1959.
Early and Late Retirement
If you retire as early as possible, you’ll get a pension 30 percent less than your full one. That amount ratchets up by 5/9 of a percent for each month you wait to retire past your 62nd birthday. Conversely, the pension can increase if you don't take it until after the NRA though you won’t get any additional credits after you turn 70. For everyone born after 1942, pensions increase by 8 percent for every year after NRA they’re taken.
By the Numbers
According to a 2011 study by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research, the average woman retired at age 62 while men waited until age 64. Those ages have crept up by a couple years since the mid-’90s due to better health, incentives to keep working and health care concerns. The average expected retirement age for those still working is 67, which is up seven years from 1996, according to a 2012 Gallup poll.
Age by Occupations
Job types also impact retirement age. Public school teachers tend to head into their golden years relatively early, retiring at 59 on average, according to the "National Review." Construction workers retire at an average age of 61 according to the Centers for Disease Control. Doctors don’t hang up their stethoscope until they’re 66.5 years old according to Medscape Connect. Butchers don’t leave their cleaver behind until they reach 65 according to Student Scholarships.
- Social Security Administration: Normal Retirement Age
- Social Security Administration: Early or Late Retirement?
- Center for Retirement Resarch at Boston College: What is the Average Retirement Age?
- Gallup: Expected Retirement Age in U.S. Up to 67
- Medcape Connect: Most Specialties Are Retiring Later
- Centers for Disase Control: Aging Workers at Higher Risk of Death, Severe Injury, Conference Report Suggests Ways to Keep Workers Healthy and Productive
- National Review: Public-Employee Unions Gone Wild
- Student Scholarships: Butchers, Meat Cutters and Fishmongers - Retail and Wholesale
Wilhelm Schnotz has worked as a freelance writer since 1998, covering arts and entertainment, culture and financial stories for a variety of consumer publications. His work has appeared in dozens of print titles, including "TV Guide" and "The Dallas Observer." Schnotz holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Colorado State University.