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The Social Security retirement age is going up -- from 65 to 67 -- and Americans will begin to feel the effects next year The changes have been in the works for 16 years but pollsters say most people have no idea theyre imminent Now 65 the normal Social Security eligibility age eventually will reach 67 for those born in 1960 or later Also taking early retirement at age 62 is becoming less of a good deal Americans are living longer and healthier lives which is very good news but the system needed to create greater incentives to work longer in order to continue to function Social Security Commissioner Kenneth S Apfel said The changes initially affects people born in 1938 who will turn 62 in 2000 and become eligible for Social Securitys early retirement option Those people can still choose to collect reduced Social Security benefits next year If they do however their early-retirement benefit will be slightly less than in the past -- 20 56 percent less than it would be if they wait until to retire until the usual retirement age rather than the 20 percent reduction that has been standard before now That means the typical person retiring at age 62 in 2000 will receive 721 a month rather than the old formulas 728 For those born in 1938 who decide to retire only when theyre eligible for regular Social Security benefits the wait will be two months longer than before until two months after their 65th birthday Although the Social Security eligibility and benefits change has been planned for 16 years most Americans either dont know its coming or dont understand how it will affect personal retirement plans A poll of Americans over age 25 taken this year by the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that almost six in 10 think they will be eligible for Social Security benefits before they actually
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