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The Difference Between Retirement Age & Stop Work Age

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Your retirement age is the age at which you begin receiving Social Security retirement benefits.

Your stop work age is the age at which you leave the labor force and no longer work. It can affect the amount of your Social Security retirement benefits.

Your retirement benefit is based on your highest 35 years of earnings and your age when you start receiving benefits.

If you stop work before retirement age

If you stop work before you have 35 years of earnings, we use a zero for each year without earnings when we do our calculations to determine the amount of retirement benefits you are due.

Even if you have 35 years of earnings, some of those years may be low earnings years. Those low earnings years will be averaged in, creating a lower benefit than if you had continued to work.

If you stop work between age 62 and full retirement age

You can retire before reaching full retirement age and receive reduced benefits. The earliest age you can start receiving retirement benefits is age 62. If you retire when you reach full retirement age, you will receive full retirement benefits.

If you stop work after full retirement age

If you choose to work beyond your full retirement age, you have two options:

  1. You can work and get full retirement benefits no matter how much you earn,


  2. You can delay getting retirement benefits and earn credits that increase your benefit amount.


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Last reviewed or modified Monday Sep 15, 2008
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