Documents You Will Need
Whether you apply online or in person, you will need the following information when you apply for your Social Security benefits:
- Your Social Security number
- Your W-2 forms or self-employment tax return for the last year you worked
- Your military discharge papers if you served in any branch of the military
If you choose to have your benefits paid through direct deposit, you will also need your bank’s name, your account number and your bank’s routing number as shown on the bottom of your checks.
What Is The Guaranteed Income Supplement
The GIS provides a monthly, non-taxable benefit to OAS pension recipients living in Canada who have a low income.
To be eligible to receive the GIS, you must be receiving the OAS pension. The amount you receive is based on your marital status and income.
To receive the GIS, your annual income must be below a specific amount.
For the most up-to-date benefit amounts, visit Old Age Security payment amounts. To find out if you or your spouse qualifies for the Allowance or the Allowance for the Survivor, or for more information on these benefits, visit Allowance for people aged 60 to 64 or contact us.
What About Taxes On Social Security
Keep in mind that Social Security benefits may be taxable, depending on your combined income. Your combined income is equal to your adjusted gross income , plus non-taxable interest payments , plus half of your Social Security benefit.
As your combined income increases above a certain threshold , more of your benefit is subject to income tax, up to a maximum of 85%. For help, talk with a CPA or tax professional.
In any case, if you’re still working, you may want to postpone Social Security either until you reach your full retirement age or until your earned income is less than the annual limit. In no situation should you postpone benefits past age 70.
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Claiming Social Security Benefits At The Right Time Means More Money In Your Pocket Here’s A Guide To Everything From Knowing Your Full Retirement Age To Taking Social Security Spousal Benefits
For many Americans, Social Security benefits are the bedrock of retirement income so maximizing this stream of income is critical.
The rules for claiming Social Security benefits can be complex, but this guide will help you successfully navigate the details. Educating yourself can ensure that you claim the maximum amount to which you are entitled.
Here are 12 essential details you need to know.
What Is Full Retirement Age
The size of your monthly Social Security benefit depends on a few factors, including how much you earned over the years, the year you were born, and the age when you start claimingdown to the month.
Youll receive your full monthly benefit if you start claiming when you reach what Social Security considers your full retirement age , sometimes also referred to as normal retirement age. FRA was 65 when Social Security began, but it has been raised to 67 for anyone born in 1960 or later. To find your FRA, see the chart below.
|Finding Your Full Retirement Age|
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How To Calculate Your Social Security Break
Deciding when to take Social Security retirement benefits is important because it can directly affect your benefit amount. While you can technically start taking benefits as early as 62, youd receive them at a reduced amount. On the other hand, you could delay taking benefits up to age 70. Calculating your Social Security break-even age can help you decide when the best time is to begin taking benefits. You can do that using a Social Security break-even calculator. Additionally, it may behoove you to consult with a financial advisor about when its best for your particular situation to begin receiving Social Security.
When Can I Start Collecting Social Security
The minimum age to claim benefits is 62. If you are turning 62 and need the income from Social Security to support yourself, then you can start claiming your benefits now. However, if you have enough other income to keep you going until you are older, you may want to delay increasing the size of your monthly benefit.
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What Is The Best Age To Apply For Social Security
When it comes to planning your retirement, the decisions that you make regarding your Social Security application may be the most important numbers game you will ever play in your life. According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, 48% of women and 42% of men who claimed Social Security retirement benefits in 2013 did so as soon as they were eligible at age 62. I believe that it is usually a mistake when single people apply for Social Security that early, but it is even worse for married couples who do so – especially in cases where the husband was the primary wage earner.
The Best Age To Apply For Social Security
The rational that I often hear from people who want to apply for Social Security at age 62 usually runs this way: Why not? Ive paid into the system for decades, and I might as well get something out of it before it goes bankrupt, right? It might feel like the best option at the time, but down the road you may find that it was the worst decision you ever made in your life.
The Social Security Break Even Point
The graph above shows that applying for Social Security at age 62 could be a very bad decision over… the long term.
Dead People Dont Have Financial Problems
There will always be attenuating circumstances that make everyones choice personal and unique. But, plan your Social Security decisions so that they make sense for both you and your spouse, for the short term and long term!
How Social Security Is Funded
Social Security is a pay as you go program. In other words, there is a tax on wages for those who are working, and this tax is supposed to cover the payments to those receiving benefits in retirement.
So, those who are working pay for those who are receiving benefits.
Heres how it works: most wage earners in the U.S. pay FICA taxes. The rate is 12.4% for Social Security and 2.9% for Medicare, for a total of 15.3% on wages. This tax is capped on wages that exceed the income wage base, $137,700 in 2020 .
For W-2 employees, the tax is split evenly between the employee and the employer, while self-employed persons are responsible for the full 15.3%. The funds collected through these taxes are then distributed as payments to those currently receiving Social Security benefits.
As boomers were working, they were paying more into Social Security than what was being paid out. This created a surplus which we call the Social Security trust fund. Now that boomers are retiring, we have the opposite situation. More money is going out than what is coming in, and the deficit is paid out of this trust fund. More on the trust fund later.
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The Case For Delaying Up To Age 70
On the other hand, if you can put off starting to collect those benefits and you have a decent chance of living a longer-than-average life, it’s worth delaying as long as you can, up to age 70. After that, there are no more increases to benefits, so 70 should be the latest age at which you apply for your benefits.
The more you know about Social Security, the smarter decisions you can make about it, which can make a big difference to your financial security in retirement.
How Early Retirement Impacts Disability Claims
Social Security disability benefits give you the option to draw early retirement before youre old enough to do so. Congress created this program in 1956 for employees whose health problems force them to stop working at least 12 months. The Disability Insurance trust only approves applicants age 18-65 with enough Social Security work credits to qualify. But what if you just turned 62 and applied for early retirement? Remember, SSD is essentially a way to draw early retirement because your health problems make it either difficult or impossible for you to keep working. If youre approved for early retirement, then you cannot qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Thats because if you qualify for any Social Security benefits at all, your early retirement request will take priority. Once you start drawing early retirement, the SSA automatically denies your Social Security disability claim.
You can apply for early Social Security retirement starting at age 62. However, we recommend applying for Social Security disability instead, since youll get paid more if approved. If youre younger than age 65 and want to double your chances for disability approval the first time you apply, start your free online claim evaluation now.
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Could I Be Eligible For The Canada Pension Plan And The Quebec Pension Plan
If you contributed to the CPP or the QPP in at least one year, you will be eligible for a retirement pension from one plan or the other as early as age 60.
The amount of your CPP retirement pension will depend on how much and for how long you have contributed to the CPP and on your age when you want your pension to start.
If you start your CPP retirement pension at age 65, you will get the full pension amount that you are eligible to receive. However, you can choose to start receiving a reduced pension as early as age 60 or an increased pension for every month you delay receiving it up to age 70.
For more information about CPP pension amounts and eligibility, visit Canada Pension Plan.
You must apply to receive your CPP or QPP retirement pension.
Note: Post-Retirement Benefit
The Post-Retirement Benefit is a lifetime benefit that can increase your retirement income if you work while receiving the CPP retirement pension. Contributions are mandatory for working CPP retirement pension recipients under age 65 and their employers. At age 65, these workers can choose to stop contributing. There are no contributions after age 70. For more information, visit Canada Pension Plan Post-Retirement Benefit .
The CPP and QPP also provide disability and survivor benefits. You must apply to receive these benefits.
- TTY: 1-800-603-3540
Tips For Ensuring A Comfortable Retirement
- If you want to build a retirement plan, a financial advisor can help you reach your retirement goals. SmartAssets free tool can pair you with advisors in your area based on your needs. Get started now.
- Save, save, save. To be able to put off taking Social Security benefits until youre 70, youll need to have enough stashed away to live off of until then. Our retirement calculator can help you figure out how much youll need to save to retire comfortably.
- Start saving early, and take advantage of employer matches. With our 401 calculator, you can see how much your 401 will be worth when you reach retirement.
- Think hard about where you want to retire. Not all states are equally tax-friendly to retirees. Use our retirement tax-friendliness tool to see how tax-friendly your home state is, and whether Social Security benefits are taxable at the state level there.
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How To Calculate Social Security Benefits
Lets say your FRA is 66. If you start claiming benefits at age 66 and your full monthly benefit is $2,000, then youll get $2,000 per month. If you start claiming benefits at age 62, which is 48 months early, then your benefit will be reduced to 75% of your full monthly benefitalso called your primary insurance amount. In other words, youll get 25% less per month, and your check will be $1,500.
That reduced benefit wont increase once you reach age 66. Rather, youll continue to receive it for the rest of your life. It may go up over time due to cost-of-living adjustments , but only slightly. You can do the math for your own situation using the Social Security Administration Early or Late Retirement Calculator, one of a number of benefit calculators provided by the SSA that can also help you determine your FRA, the SSAs estimate of your life expectancy for benefit calculations, rough estimates of your retirement benefits, individualized projections of your benefits based on your personal work record, and more.
Although the cost-of-living adjustments announced each year are usually only slight increases, Social Security benefits will increase by 5.9% in 2022, marking the largest increase since 1982.
When Will My Pension Payments Begin
Your pension payments will begin during one of the following months, whichever is latest:
- the month after you meet the residence and legal status requirements
- the month after your 65th birthday
- the month you asked for your OAS pension to start in and that you meet all eligibility requirements
For information on payment amounts, visit Old Age Security payment amounts.
Try This Life Expectancy Calculator For Social Security
Retirement benefit calculations are based on extensive actuarial studies and data. As a service to the public, the Social Security Administration has developed a simple Life Expectancy Calculator that allows you to plug in your gender and date of birth to get a rough estimate of how long you may live.
Knowing this information may help you in deciding when the right time is to apply for retirement benefits.
To use the Calculator, go to
Direct Deposit: Its The Law
Effective March 2013, a new law went into effect requiring that all Social Security benefits be paid electronically. This means benefits due to you are directly deposited into a bank account of your choosing. The change means a quicker delivery of benefits as well as being safer and more convenient for customers.
The U.S. Treasury administers the Direct Deposit program and can answer questions for customers who call their helpline at 1-800-333-1795. For information and to sign up for the electronic delivery of funds, go to the Go Direct website at
The Treasury will also grant waivers in rare instances. To request a waiver or for more information, call 1-855-290-1545.
How to contact the Social Security Administration
TTY number: 1-800-325-0778
E-mail: Fill out a contact form located at
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Social Security Retirement Age : If You Are A Widow/widower
If you are a widow or widower, you can receive Social Security retirement benefits as early as 60. If you have not reached your full retirement age, and you are still working and earn more than the earnings limit, your benefits will be reduced. Once you reach full retirement age, no more reductions will apply, regardless of how much you work and earn. Those working will want to consider waiting until their full retirement age to begin widow/widower benefits.
One option available to widows/widowers is to file a restricted application, which means you can begin one type of benefit, such as a survivor benefit then when you reach 70, you can switch over to your retirement benefit amount if it would be larger.
At What Age Are You No Longer Eligible To Apply For Social Security Disability
Havent applied for early retirement, but youre between 60 and 65 years old? Then youre in luck! You can apply for Social Security disability up until one year reaching before your full retirement age . Typically, that means you can still get approved for SSD benefits at 65, if you meet all other requirements. But once you reach your FRA, your SSD benefits automatically convert into regular Social Security retirement payments. That means any claimants age 66 and older cannot qualify for SSD, because they now qualify for regular Social Security.
A You Can Continue Working And Start Receiving Your Retirement Benefits
If you start your benefits before your full retirement age, your benefits are reduced a fraction of a percent for each month before your full retirement age.
You can get Social Security retirement benefits and work at the same time before your full retirement age. However your benefits will be reduced if you earn more than the yearly earnings limits.
After you reach your full retirement age, we will recalculate your benefit amount to give you credit for any months you did not receive a benefit because of your earnings. We will send you a letter that explains any increase in your benefit amount.
If you delay filing for your benefits until after full retirement age, you will be eligible for delayed retirement credits that would increase your monthly benefit. If you also continue to work, you will be able to receive your full retirement benefits and any increase resulting from your additional earnings when we recalculate your benefits. Once you reach full retirement age, your earnings do not affect your benefit amount.
If you start receiving retirement benefits before age 65, you are automatically enrolled in Original Medicare when you turn 65. If you or your spouse are still working and covered under an employer-provided group health plan, talk to the personnel office before signing up for Medicare Part B. To learn more, read our Medicare publication.
Many Of Us Will Have Little Choice
- You can start collecting benefits as early as age 62 and as late as age 70.
- For many people, starting at age 62 makes the most sense.
- Do your own math, though — waiting until age 70 is better for some.
You can start collecting your Social Security benefits as early as age 62 and as late as age 70 — though you have a full retirement age somewhere in between, which is 66 or 67 for most of us. Start collecting before your FRA, and your benefit checks will shrink. Delay beyond it, and they’ll grow bigger.
That can make it seem like delaying is a no-brainer move, but remember that when you start early, you’ll collect many more checks than if you delay. The most popular age for starting to collect Social Security benefits is actually 62, according to a 2019 report from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.
Here’s a look at the main reason why starting at 62 makes plenty of sense for lots of people — plus why waiting until age 70 is the right move for some.
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