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I've studied a good deal about what, how, and when to apply for social security benefits. But the one piece of information I'm looking for isn't easy to find apparently.

I've heard that the work years just before retirement count the most toward getting higher benefits. Say retirement is age 66. Is it true that the amount you make from ages 62-66 determine your benefits more so than amounts you make in earlier years?

I've read that they take the average of your highest 35 years. So that sounds like it doesn't matter WHICH years you make the higher amounts in.

My big question is, what if you stop working at age 60ish but don't claim benefits until 66 or even 70? Is that going to screw you over since the years close to retirement are zero income years?

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