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Howard Kossover: Full retirement age has gradually gone up since 1983 SSA Amendments

Q: When did full retirement age change to age 66?

A: Full retirement age (FRA) is the age at which a person may first become entitled to full, unreduced, retirement benefits.

The original Social Security Act of 1935 established that retirement, then the only SSA benefit, could begin at age 65.

Since reduced benefits came later and age 65 was retirement age, there was no need then for the concept of full retirement age.

The 1956 Amendments signed by President Eisenhower provided an early age 62 SSA retirement option to women effective with November 1956, establishing reduced retirement benefits.

Men became eligible for reduced retirement at age 62 with the SSA Amendments of 1961, signed by President Kennedy.

Unreduced benefits, now called full or normal benefits, were paid to people waiting until age 65 to start SSA retirement.

Age 65 remained as full retirement age until the 1983 SSA Amendments signed by President Reagan.

Addressing financing needs of that time, the 1983 Amendments made numerous changes to the Social Security programs including taxation of SSA benefits and increases in the retirement age.

Still in progress, those 1983 retirement age increases have slowly been raising full retirement age (FRA) based on birth year from age 65 for people born in 1937 or earlier to the current FRA of age 66 for those born in 1943-54.

Starting with the birth year of 1955, full retirement age will gradually continue increasing again until reaching age 67 for people born in 1960 or later as established in the 1983 Amendments.

Future legislation can change these ages.

Learn your full retirement age at

Scam warning: A scam related to Medicare coverage has surfaced in the area.

In short, crooks have called people enrolled in Medicare to “verify” contact information, including bank account numbers.

Bank account information is not needed to discuss Medicare.

In any case, Social Security representatives do not make cold calls to verify existing information.

If you called Social Security first, a representative will return your call but that is not a cold call situation.

Protect your personal information.

Based in Grand Forks, Howard I. Kossover is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Send general interest questions to him at Read his online articles at