Ask Bob: How Early Retirement Affects Social Security

Robert Powell, CFP®

Question: I just retired at age 50. I would like to collect Social Security starting at age 62. Will I be penalized in some way because I will not be working for the next 12 years? In one of your answers, you were saying that Social Security payments would be affected if you retire before your full retirement age, or FRA, and do not have 35 years in the workforce. At this point I have only 30 years in the workforce so I'm wondering what my situation might be when I turn 62.

Answer: Your Social Security benefit is based on your highest 35 years of earnings, says Brian Vosberg, president of Vosberg & Associates, and author of The Complete Retiree's Guide to Social Security. "If you only have 30 years paying into Social Security, then you will have five years with a $0 in the calculation," he says. "So not having the full 35 years will have an impact on your benefit."

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