As long as we're on a retirement kick around here, Social Security's latest statistical supplement is out and you just know you can't resist diving in to its 528 pages of mind-numbing tables. Just kidding. I'll bet you can resist. (But if you really can't resist, the whole thing is here.)
Anyway, here's an interesting chart (from Table 5.B8) showing the rise in early retirement. Bottom line: Almost no one waits until age 66 (the current full retirement age) these days. A full 71 percent of men and 76 percent of women now get reduced Social Security benefits because they retired early. In 1965, only 21 percent of men and 49 percent of women retired early.
Among men, the average monthly benefit for those who retired early is $1,283. The average monthly benefit for those who waited is $1,625. Among women, the averages are $1,019 and $1,283.