If you’re looking to claim Social Security benefits any time in the near future, we understand it can be confusing and overwhelming to say the very least. With that said, it is out hope that this blog will help answer some of the questions you might have.

Let’s start with pop quiz, history edition.

Do you know which president signed the Social Security Act into law on Aug. 14, 1935?

If you guessed President Franklin Roosevelt, then you are correct!

Ironically, a few months before the Wall Street crash that preceded the Great Depression, Roosevelt stated: “No greater tragedy exists in modern civilization than the aged, worn-out worker who after a life of ceaseless effort and useful productivity must look forward for his declining years to a poorhouse. A modern social consciousness demands a more humane and efficient arrangement.”

As you approach retirement and consider applying for Social Security benefits, there are several steps you will need to take including:

  1. Timing the application correctly
  2. Gathering specific documents
  3. Determining whether you will apply in the office or online

When exactly should you apply?

Keep in mind that while you can start collecting retirement benefits at age 62, your payments will be reduced if you claim them before reaching your full retirement age. While that was 65 for many years, it is currently 66 and gradually increasing to 67. Two tips as you consider when to apply:

  1. If you file for Social Security at full retirement age, you qualify for 100% of the benefit calculated from your lifetime earnings.
  2. Filing as late as 70 can further increase your retirement benefit

To help, review the table below which will give you a rough idea of the effect of waiting to start collecting your benefits versus starting early.

Start Collecting at: Full Retirement Age of 66  Full Retirement Age of 67 
62 75% 70%
63 80% 75%
64 86.7% 80%
65 93.3% 86.7%
66 100% 93.3%
67 108% 100%
68 116% 108%
69 124% 116%
70 132% 124%

Next, you will need to start gathering documents. Here is a list of the documents you will need:

  • Social Security card
  • Birth certificate
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship
  • A copy of your military service papers (if you carried out military service before 1968)
  • A copy of W-2 forms or self-employment tax return from the previous year
  • Any marriage, divorce and death certificates
  • Bank information to set up deposits
  • A spouse’s Social Security number and date of birth

Now that you’ve gathered your documents, you need to determine where you want to apply – at the Social Security Office or online. If you decide to go in person, you can opt to make an appointment to help cut down on waiting time. Social Security offers an online retirement application that can be completed in as little as 15 minute and from the comfort of your own home. Which means, you don’t need to brave the traffic and can stay in your pajamas. It’s a win win!  Better yet, you can apply from the comfort of your home or office at a time most convenient for you.

In most cases, once your application is submitted electronically, you’re done. Social Security will process your application and contact you by telephone or by mail if any further information is needed.

If you are not reaching the age of retirement, you may be eligible for benefits entitled to you that you aren’t receiving. Amazing benefits such as:

  • Premiums starting at $0 per month
  • Coverage for copays and deductibles
  • Prescription drugs
  • Dental
  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Massages
  • And more!

Take our quiz to discover benefits you may be eligible for right now!