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Most people are able to begin collecting Social Security retirement benefits at 62. Before choosing early retirement, though, it's important to know how collecting Social Security before full retirement will effect you.

What Are The Requirements To Collect Social Security At 62?

The requirements are the same as for full retirement. You must be at least 62 years of age and have collected at least 40 work credits. No one is required to collect more than 40 work credits to qualify. One credit is earned for every $1120 of eligible income up to a maximum of 4 credits per year. To qualify for retirement benefits you have to collect 10 years benefits through any combination of work.

What Are The Risks Associated With Retiring Early?

Social Security benefits are designed to pay out an average amount of money per person, over an average lifespan. Choosing to retire early means that the same funding must be stretched for an additional 3 to 5 years. The earlier you retire, the lower your monthly payment will be. For people who begin receiving benefits at 62, this means 25% less money every month for the entire retirement.

What Are The Other Differences?

People choosing early retirement also have limits placed on them in regard to income. While the fully retired--those over 65 to 67 depending on birth year--are allowed unlimited income, early retirees will find their benefit temporarily reduced if income exceeds a specific point. In 2010 the amount is $14,160. Every two dollars over that limit reduces the current year's benefit by one dollar. Also, taking retirement early can limit the earnings on record, possibly resulting in a lower monthly benefit. It is important to consider all possible consequences and benefits before deciding to collect Social Security early.