(800) 973-1540

I was laid off at 51 years-old, can I collect social security at 65 years-old?

1 answer | Last updated: Apr 21, 2011
A fellow caregiver asked...

I was laid off work at 51 yrs old after a 30yr career. I dont work, can I still collect social security at 65 years-old?


Caring.com User - Joseph L.  Matthews
Caring.com Expert
Joseph L. Matthews is a Caring.com Expert, an attorney, and the author of Long-Term Care: How to Plan & Pay for It and...
A fellow caregiver answered...

Absolutely you will be able to collect Social Security retirement benefitswhen you reach retirement age. In order to qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, you only need to have See also:
9 Government Benefits You Might Be Missing Out On

See all 937 questions about Social Security Benefits
earned 40 "work credits." You earn one work credit for each few hundred dollars of earnings, up to 4 credits per year. So, almost everyone who works earns the full 4 credits a year, and therefore earns the 40 work credits needed in only 10 years of work. Since you already have worked 30 years, you have already qualified for Social Security retirement benefits.

You can begin claiming Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62. However, if you claim them before you reach full retirement age, your monthly benefits will be lower (and remain lower for your lifetime) than if you wait until your full retirement age to begin collecting benefits. However, full retirement age for someone who is now age 51 (born in 1960) is age 67, not age 65.

If you claim retirement benefits anytime before you reach age 67, your monthly benefit amount will be permanently reduced by a little over 0.5% for each month you claim it before your full retirement age. And there's another potential drawback to claiming your retirement benefits before you reach full retirement age. If you return to work while collecting early Social Security retirement benefits, you might also suffer a reduction in your benefit amount. Until you reach full retirement age, Social Security will reduce your benefits by $1 for every $2 earned over a set yearly limit.

On the other hand, if you delay claiming your Social Security retirement benefits until after you reach full retirement age, your benefits will be permanently 4 to 8 percent higher for each year's delay, until you reach to age 70 (after which there's no more increase).