Social security retirement benefits are available for adults who are over the age of 62. Benefit amounts vary and depend on several factors, including your income and the age at which you choose to begin receiving benefits. You can learn more about benefit amounts using the retirement calculator.
When Should You Apply?
If you choose to take your benefits at age 62, you may begin the application process three months before your 62nd birthday, but no earlier. For persons born after 1938, age 67 is considered full retirement age. If you were born before 1938, then full retirement age is 65.
If you choose to wait until 67 years of age to apply for benefits, you will receive more money per month. You should spend some time thinking about your retirement in advance, so you can make the most informed decision about your benefits. Many people choose to begin receiving benefits at age 62, and you are the only one who knows if this is the right decision for you.
Today, people are remaining in the workplace for a longer period of time, and medical advances and healthier lifestyles are allowing for people to live longer and enjoy a higher quality of life in their later years. For this reason, many people choose to hold off on applying for benefits. Waiting has the advantage of giving you more money later on, at a time when you may need it most.
How Do I Apply?
You have three options: applying in person at your local social security office, applying online and applying over the phone. Applying online is probably the quickest, easiest route, and means no standing in line. Simply go to the socialsecurity.gov site, go to the online application link and follow the prompts.
No matter how you choose to apply, you will need to be prepared with specific information and documentation. Taking time to prepare and gather any documents ahead of time will speed up the process and help you avoid delays and hassles. Most of the information should be easy to obtain, here are some examples to help you get started:
Social security numbers for you and your spouse and/or former spouse, as well as birthdates, marriage dates and if applicable, divorce and death dates.
Financial information, such as your bank account and routing number, information about your employer, your retirement benefits through your employer, social security statements and more.
Go to the socialsecurity.gov site for more specific information about information and documentation required to begin your application.
How Long Does It Take?
Once your application is complete, it will take at least a month for you to begin getting benefits. If you apply in January, for example, you will most likely get your first payment in March.
Remember, it is best to start thinking about retirement benefits before you need them. Take some time to decide when you will want to start receiving benefits, and begin exploring the socialsecurity.gov site, where you can get answers to most of your questions.