Does quitting at 63 affect my Social Security?

  @Money October 16, 2013: 4:18 PM ET
What's your dream retirement?
NEW YORK (Money Magazine)

Say I want to start collecting Social Security at age 66. If I retire at 63, will my not working cut my benefit? -- Chuck Witte, Wheatland, Wyo.

A Social Security benefits are based on your 35 years of highest earnings. Have you worked at least that long? Then quitting at 63 probably won't have a major impact, says Jonathan Peterson, author of Social Security for Dummies.

To illustrate, let's say that you make $100,000 at age 63, having received 3% raises annually over a 35-year career. Hanging in for three more years would raise your monthly benefit $41, or 1.6%.

Related: Planning for retirement

If, however, you're making the same money but have worked only 32 years, quitting early would hurt more; you'd be forgoing $119 a month, or a 4.8% bump, by not putting in three more years. You can test scenarios yourself at

Related: The Social Security mistake that costs retirees thousands To top of page

Send your questions to Ask the Expert.

Have you saved $1 million or more in your 401(k)? We want to hear your secrets! Email and you could be featured in an upcoming story.

Join the Conversation
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.32%4.26%
15 yr fixed3.36%3.27%
5/1 ARM3.37%3.27%
30 yr refi4.31%4.24%
15 yr refi3.34%3.25%
View rates in your area
Find personalized rates:
Rate data provided
Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.