When Do You Legally Become a Senior Citizen

When Do You Become a Senior Citizen

There is no specified age to be considered a senior citizen in the United States. Some believe that a person becomes a senior citizen after retiring from work, getting benefits from Social Security, or relying on their retirement funds. Still, some may not think of these as senior citizens.

However, certain aspects of life define when a person becomes a senior citizen, such as:

1. Being eligible for Social Security benefits

2. Receiving senior citizen discounts

3. Retiring from full-time work voluntarily

4. Becoming eligible for Medicare benefits

5. Noticing significant changes in health

6. Realizing they fit age stereotypes

7. A noticeable shift in day-to-day priorities

This proves that though there is no specific age for being called a senior citizen, there are parameters that can help identify one.

Are you a Senior Citizen

Let’s take a look at the different parameters and determine if you qualify as a senior citizen:

1 – Eligibility for Social Security benefits

Social Security benefits are usually granted once you reach 62 or as late as 70. If you have contributed to the Social Security program, you begin receiving benefits once you are 62.(1)

You can wait until retirement (66 or 67) for Social Security benefits. However, if you decide to wait longer, you will likely receive increased monthly benefits till you are 70 years old.

You can check the estimated benefits you will receive at different ages by creating a Social Security account and calculating your Social Security statement.

2 – Qualifying for Medicare

Medicare requires an applicant to be at least 65 to be eligible for benefits. This is usually the case in every state in the US. (2)

3 – Cashing Retirement Savings

Retirement accounts are an incredible way to save significantly for the long term. Similarly, the 401(k) plan or IRA typically charges a penalty if you withdraw early from these accounts.

For most retirement accounts, such as a 401(k) or IRA, early withdrawal penalties apply if you take money out before reaching 59 and a half years of age.

As a result, you can consider yourself a senior citizen once the 10% penalty is not charged for 401(k) withdrawals.

The age at which you must start taking Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from your retirement accounts depends on your birth date. As of recent updates, if you were born on July 1, 1949, or later, you must start taking RMDs at age 72. However, for those born earlier, the starting age for RMDs was 70 and a half. These withdrawals are calculated using a special distribution method by the IRS.

4 – Getting Senior Discounts

There are several different ways to determine if you are a senior citizen. For instance, AARP was founded to promote productive aging and health insurance for retirees. It is dedicated to serving people over 50 years old and provides significant health insurance coverage.

Besides this, AARP membership also gets you deals and discounts that can be used at restaurants, on health and wellness products, with delivery services and even while traveling. Besides this, being eligible for AARP also gives you significant discounts on home and car insurance.

So, in this way, even 50-year-olds are considered to be senior citizens in many aspects.

5 – Taking Voluntary Retirement

Many times, people who take early retirement from their full-time careers are considered to be senior citizens by society. Still, with the rising cost of living, you may have to work part-time jobs for extra income.

You can even try to open a small business or look for a position of authority in your area that can be interesting work. Retirement usually brings significant freedom but also tags you as a senior citizen.

6 – Significant Changes in Health

Besides your job status and age, certain medical conditions indicate you may have become a senior citizen. For instance, hypertension, hearing loss, and arthritis are some of the most common medical conditions that affect people of advanced age. A person with several age-related medical problems undoubtedly feels older owing to the type of medication and medical devices they use.


While there is no universally agreed-upon age to be considered a senior citizen, various programs and benefits start at different ages. For instance, Medicare eligibility begins at 65, and AARP membership is available to those 50 and over. The concept of being a senior citizen is more fluid and can vary according to different contexts and benefits.


Are seniors covered by health insurance?

The requirements and processes for applying for senior citizen health insurance policies may vary by state. There are several health insurance plans available for senior citizens in the US. Some of these are Medicare, Medigap, Medicaid, etc.

Why do seniors get funds for house repairs?

Senior people may find it challenging to maintain their homes. Various organizations offer discounts and income-based pricing to help seniors with their bills through these senior home repair programs.

See Also

Dental Insurance for Senior Citizens

No Medical Exam Life Insurance for Seniors

Dental Grants for Senior Citizens

Current Version
March 7, 2024
Fact Checked By
Andrea Morales G.
August 8, 2023
Updated By
Shubham Grover
August 5, 2023
Fact Checked By
Andrea Morales G.
August 2, 2023
Written By
Shubham Grover
January 14, 2024
Fact Checked By
Andrea Morales G.

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