What Is the Full Retirement Age?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 26 July 2014
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Full retirement age often has most to do with the time when a country or state would give total amount of benefits earned to a retiree. This may be differently constructed in a variety of countries. In the United Kingdom, up until the mid 2000s, the standard full retirement age to receive a pension was 60 for women and 64 for men, but there has been much change in this and it is projected that by the middle of the century that age could be 68 for both genders, or higher.

In the US, when the social security program was first begun in the 1930s, people reached full retirement age at 65 and could claim the full benefit to which they were entitled. Although not everyone received benefits, people who were citizens, who had worked full time or had a spouse that worked full time, earned a pension they could begin to collect.

Of course sometimes people had to retire early, and they could do so at the age of 62, receiving less than the full retirement age benefit or a percentage of it. This was usually determined by the number of months from their actual age to full retirement age. What spouses might receive was also reduced with earlier retirement.


Since the 1940s, full retirement age has climbed steadily upward. Those born in the 1950s, for instance, would be eligible just before their 67th birthday. Those people born in the 1960s cannot get access full retirement pay until they are 67, and this number is expected go up. It’s quite possible that those born in later decades might have to be 68, 69, or 70 before they reach full retirement age.

Part of the reason for the increase is explained by the fact that many people live longer and are healthier than they once were at these ages. Another contributing factor to the change is to discourage healthier workers from drawing on the system before they actually need to, which can thus save the government a great deal of money. On the other hand, it’s argued that people are sometimes forced to retirement early because they’ve lost jobs and can’t find a replacement one (sometimes as a result of systemic age discrimination) or due to the fact that they have increasing age-related conditions that may make working difficult. If these people have inadequate savings, they may have to take early retirement, and that could have a dramatic impact on quality of living for a number of year because payments are reduced.


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