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SOCIAL SECURITY Q&A: How to maximize your retirement amount

Q. I turn 65 on March 7, 2015. To maximize my retirement amount and not start early, should I start benefits for March or April?

A. Since you are just age 65 in 2015, starting Social Security retirement in either March or April is early and will lead to a reduced benefit. Once at least age 62, you can start retirement any month that is best for you. Any reduction or increase depends on the number of months that you are before or past your full retirement age, or FRA.

Including FRA charts with monthly percentages, information and calculators are at the SSA Retirement Planner at

Using the retirement age chart at, full retirement age is 66 for people born between1943 and 1954. For them, starting Social Security retirement before age 66 means a reduced amount, with different reductions for each month. These reductions are permanent but cost of living adjustments are received.

For example, use a birth date of March 7, 1950, and an FRA amount of $1,500. Starting Social Security retirement effective March 2016 at age 66 provides an unreduced $1,500 monthly amount. Based on this, here are results of several 2015 retirement months.

Depending on expected 2015 earnings and as yet unknown 2015 Social Security earnings limits, this person might start retirement with January 2015. That is 14 months early, providing a monthly benefit reduced to about 92.2 percent of the FRA amount, or about $1,383.

Benefits started effective March 2015, are 12 months early. Starting then results in a monthly retirement about 93.3 percent of the FRA, equal to about $1,399 per month, while benefits started in April are 11 months early and reduced to about 93.9 percent or $1,408. Start benefits when best for you, either before, at or after FRA.

Did You Know? On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed H.R. 6675 to provide Medicare health insurance for the elderly. It was signed in Independence, Missouri, in the presence of Harry S. Truman who opened the fight for such legislation in a message to Congress in 1945. Most of the new Medicare program became effective July 1, 1966.


Kossover is the Social Security public affairs specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Reach him at Read his blog at