Understanding social security can result in a happier retirement. January 1, 2017 brought in significant changes and the new age of 66 years and 2 months (it had been 65 years) for full retirement benefits (for those born between 01/02/1955 through 01/01/1956). It is expected to increase to age 67 for individuals born in the 1960’s. Individuals may receive permanently reduced retirement benefits when they turn 62 in 2017. As the full retirement age continues to increase, there are greater reductions in benefits for individuals who claim the benefits before they reach full retirement age. For example, if you apply for benefits in 2017 at age 62, your monthly benefit amount will be reduced nearly twenty-six (26%) percent. Your spouse’s benefits, if any, will also be significantly reduced if you claim benefits before reaching full retirement age. There are both advantages and disadvantages to receiving your social security benefit before full retirement age. An advantage is that you will collect benefits for a longer time period. In contrast, the amount you receive will be reduced based upon how early you elect to begin receiving them.