What exactly is an early retirement? After twenty years serving in the military retirement is an option. Most who take it quickly pursue a civilian career. Many believe a retirement before age 62, the birthday at which reduced Social Security benefits are available is early. Retiring on only the age 62 Social Security benefit without a pension or substantial savings would likely be living below the poverty level. Others believe retiring before Medicare eligibility at age 65 is early. Anything prior to age 65 leaves most with an unaffordable bill for private health insurance; granted, there are folks who are disabled or fortunate enough to have their employer continue health insurance for their families but in general most pre-65 retirees are stuck with the bill.