Is Age 65 Still Important For Social Security Retirement?

Q: Is age 65 still important for Social Security retirement?

A: While age 65 is important as the starting age for Medicare, it has no special meaning for Social Security retirement anymore.

Until the Social Security Amendments of 1983, retirement benefits were not reduced for age if you waited until age 65 before starting them. Benefits started when younger than age 65 were reduced.

The 1983 Amendments put into place a very gradual increase to full retirement age (FRA) that is not yet completed. Since then, FRA varies based on your year of birth and is age 66 for birth years 1943 to 1954.

Still based on the 1983 Amendments, full retirement age will eventually be age 67 for those born in 1960 or later. Today, retirement benefits started at age 65 are reduced because it is younger than FRA. Learn your own FRA and estimate retirement amounts in the Social Security Retirement Planner at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire/.

Medicare begins for most people at age 65, earlier if receiving disability. If you receive Social Security benefits, expect a Medicare card and instructions several months in advance of age 65. If not yet receiving benefits, you must take action yourself to enroll.

An easy online Medicare application and additional information is on the Social Security website at www.socialsecurity.gov/medicare/ or you can make an appointment to complete the application with a Social Security representative. Enroll two to three months before age 65.

If still employed with work related medical insurance, discuss Medicare with your employer and insurance company. You will probably want to enroll in Medicare Part A (Hospital), which does not have a premium, but you might not yet need Part B (Medical), which has a monthly premium. Social Security employees cannot advise you about this.

Detailed Medicare coverage and premium information is at www.medicare.gov, the official Medicare website operated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).