Regular readers know that your full retirement age (FRA) is based on year of birth and ranges from age 65 for people born in 1937 or earlier, to age 67 for people born in 1960 and later. FRA is age 66 for people born in 1943 – 1954.
Full retirement age is the age at you can first become entitled to full or unreduced retirement benefits. Starting Social Security retirement when younger than FRA results in a reduced benefit amount. Starting retirement when older than FRA results in an increased amount.
While not that often anymore, I continue to meet people who are not aware that FRA varies and they usually ask when this came about. Learning that this change was part of the 1983 Social Security Amendments is a second surprise to them, especially when they realize that these FRA changes are still being phased in.
Why was full retirement age changed in 1983?
In the early 1980’s the Social Security program faced a serious short-term financing crisis. President Reagan appointed a blue-ribbon panel, the National Commission on Social Security Reform, known as the Greenspan Commission, to study the financing issues and make recommendations for legislative changes.
Resulting legislation, Public Law 98-21, the Social Security Amendments of 1983, was signed into law on April 20, 1983, by President Ronald Reagan (signing ceremony photo). It included the changes to full retirement age.
In addition to increasing full retirement age over many years, the 1983 Amendments made numerous other changes in the Social Security and Medicare programs including the taxation of Social Security benefits and the first coverage of Federal employees.
The 1983 Amendments also provided Social Security coverage for all Members of Congress, the President and Vice-President, Federal Judges and other executive-level political appointees of the Federal Government.
There were many other provisions to the legislation. You can read a summary of the 1983 Amendments here.
Today is the 32nd anniversary of the signing of the 1983 Amendments by President Reagan.