Mandatory Spending

Function 650 - Social Security

Raise the Full Retirement Age for Social Security

CBO periodically issues a compendium of policy options (called Options for Reducing the Deficit) covering a broad range of issues, as well as separate reports that include options for changing federal tax and spending policies in particular areas. This option appears in one of those publications. The options are derived from many sources and reflect a range of possibilities. For each option, CBO presents an estimate of its effects on the budget but makes no recommendations. Inclusion or exclusion of any particular option does not imply an endorsement or rejection by CBO.

Billions of Dollars 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2021–
Change in Outlays 0 0 -0.2 -0.9 -2.2 -4.3 -7.0 -12.4 -19.0 -26.2 -3.3 -72.2

This option would take effect in January 2023.

The age at which workers become eligible for full retirement benefits from Social Security—known as the full retirement age (FRA)—depends on their year of birth. For workers born after 1959, the FRA is 67. (For workers born earlier, the FRA is lower.) Workers, regardless of their year of birth, may claim benefits as early as age 62. Their scheduled benefit is adjusted depending on how much earlier or later than their FRA they choose to start receiving benefits. Up to age 70, the later a worker begins receiving benefits, the larger the monthly benefit.

Under this option, the FRA would increase from 67 by two months per birth year for workers born between 1961 and 1978. As a result, for all workers born in 1978 or later, the FRA would be 70. As under current law, workers could still choose to begin receiving benefits as early as age 62, but the reduction in their initial scheduled monthly benefit for claiming benefits early would be larger under this option than under current law. An increase in the FRA would reduce scheduled lifetime benefits for every affected Social Security recipient, regardless of the age at which a person claimed benefits. Workers could maintain the same scheduled monthly benefit by claiming benefits at a later age, but they would then receive benefits for fewer months.

The Congressional Budget Office projects that under current law, the Disability Insurance trust fund would be exhausted in fiscal year 2026 and the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance trust fund would be exhausted in calendar year 2031. Under section 257 of the Deficit Control Act, in its projections CBO must assume that scheduled Social Security benefits would be paid even after the program’s trust funds were exhausted. However, the government’s legal authority to pay benefits would then be limited to the amount received in dedicated tax revenues, which would be insufficient to pay scheduled benefits in full. After trust-fund exhaustion, therefore, for the people who would be affected by this option, the reduction in payable benefits would be smaller than the reduction in scheduled benefits.