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At What Age Can You Collect Social Security in California?

Last updated: October 10, 2023

In an era where about 64 million Americans, as of 2021, received Social Security benefits, understanding the intricacies of this program is crucial, especially when planning for retirement. In 1935, Social Security became a financial safety net for retirees, the disabled, and their dependents, offering income security in their sunset years. 

As California, one of the states with a higher cost of living, navigates its way through these national policies, knowing when you can start collecting these benefits is paramount. This article explores the various ages at which you can start receiving Social Security benefits in California and the impacts of different decisions.

The Importance of Social Security

For many people, Social Security is a significant source of retirement income. About half of all retired married couples and nearly 70% of unmarried retirees rely on these benefits for at least half of their income. Hence, understanding the workings of this system is crucial for planning a comfortable retirement.

The Age Factor in Social Security

Full Retirement Age (FRA)

Your Full Retirement Age (FRA) depends on the year you were born. For those born between 1943 and 1954, the FRA is 66. For those born after 1954, the FRA increases gradually until it reaches 67 for those born in 1960 or later.

Early Retirement Age

You can start collecting Social Security benefits as early as age 62, but there's a catch: your monthly benefit amount will be reduced. The earlier you start, the smaller the monthly benefit.

Delayed Retirement Credits

On the other hand, if you wait until after your FRA to start collecting benefits, you'll receive delayed retirement credits. These credits increase your monthly benefit up until age 70.

Social Security in California

How It Works in California

In California, the age at which you can collect Social Security is no different from the rest of the United States. The same rules about FRA, early retirement, and delayed retirement credits apply.

California’s Unique Approach

What's different, however, is the cost of living. California is known for its high living costs, so it's essential to plan your retirement strategically. Whether to take early retirement, wait until FRA, or delay benefits until 70 is a decision that should consider these factors.

Pros and Cons of Collecting Social Security at Different Ages

Pros and Cons of Early Retirement

Early retirement provides immediate income, which can be beneficial if you cannot work or have financial needs. However, the downside is the reduction in monthly benefits, which can significantly impact your overall retirement income.

Pros and Cons of Full Retirement

Collecting at your FRA ensures you receive the full benefit amount calculated from your earnings history. However, you may have to work longer, and depending on your health and job situation, this might not be ideal.

Pros and Cons of Delayed Retirement

Delayed retirement increases your monthly benefit, which can be a big plus. However, you'll have to have other income sources to sustain you in the interim period. Plus, the increased benefits stop growing at age 70.

Deciding the Right Age for You

Factors to Consider

Your decision should depend on various factors, such as your financial situation, health, life expectancy, and personal retirement goals. A financial advisor can provide personalized advice based on your specific circumstances.


1. What is the minimum age to collect Social Security in California? 

The minimum age to collect Social Security in California, as in the rest of the United States, is 62.

2. Does California have unique Social Security rules? 

No, California follows the same Social Security rules as the rest of the United States. However, given the high cost of living, planning is critical.

3. How much is Social Security reduced if I retire early? 

If you retire at 62, your benefit can be reduced by as much as 30%.

4. Is it beneficial to delay Social Security until 70? 

If you can afford to wait, delaying Social Security until 70 can increase your monthly benefits. However, you should consider other factors, such as your health and financial needs.

5. What is the full retirement age for someone born in 1960 or later? 

For those born in 1960 or later, the full retirement age is 67.


The age at which you can collect Social Security in California depends on your birth year and personal decisions around early or delayed retirement. Given the high cost of living in California, it's crucial to strategize your retirement effectively. Consulting a financial advisor can be beneficial in making these decisions.

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Victor Traylor
An expert to the field of Social Justice, Victor formed Disability Help to connect ideas and expertise from the US with rising global cultural leadership, building networks, fostering collaboration, long-term results, mutual benefit, and more extensive international perception.
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