Social Security: How Far In Advance Can I Apply
The rule of thumb is the earlier you decide to take distributions, the smaller your monthly check will be if you waited until full retirement age or the maximum age of 70 to take advantage of benefits.
According to the Social Security Administration, the earliest you can be eligible to receive benefits is 62 years of age but you must be 62 for the entire month. This means if you turn 62 on the 28th of the month, you must wait until the next month to claim benefits for the first time.
If you were born on the first or second day of the month, you meet this requirement at the moment of your 62nd birthday. If you were born on any other day of the month, you do not meet this requirement until the following month.
The SSA states you can apply up to four months before you want your retirement benefits to start. This is the earliest you can apply for social security benefits to make sure your benefits begin to distribute as soon as you reach 62. For example, if you turn 62 on Dec. 2, you can start your benefits as early as December and begin the application process in August.
According to the administration, even if you are not ready to retire you should still sign up for Medicare three months before your 65th birthday.
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How Does Social Security Affect Medicare And My Retirement Benefits
Although Medicare is a separate benefit offered by the government, it often times goes hand in hand with Social Security retirement benefits as a means of providing a financial safety net for retired workers.
Medicare is the government sponsored health insurance plan for people who are at least 65 years old. The only exceptions to this are the disabled or those who have permanent kidney failure, both of whom can get Medicare at any age.
Medicare is broken into four parts:
Medicare Part A Hospital insurance that helps pay for in-patient hospital care and some follow-up services.
Medicare Part B Medical insurance that helps pay for doctors services, outpatient hospital care and related medical services.
Medicare Part C Medicare Advantage Plans allow people to combine Part A and Part B to get medical services from a single provider organization.
Medicare Part D Prescription drug coverage helps pay for prescribed medications.
Medicare and Social Security benefits are linked in that when you turn 65 years old, your Part A Medicare hospital insurance begins automatically. If you live in the United States or U.S. territories, youll also be enrolled in Part B Medical insurance coverage as well.
Regardless of whether or not youre getting Social Security benefits, you should sign up for Medicare about three months before your 65th birthday.
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How To Get A Social Security Card
What Is The Future Of Social Security
Social Security is expected to run out of cash reserves in 2034, according to the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund, the retirement benefits account managed by the Social Security Administration.
However, this doesnt mean the program would be bankrupt and unable to pay out benefits. If Congress does nothing to reform the system by 2034, Social Security would still be able to pay 79 percent of promised benefits until 2090.
Social Security has run out of cash reserves before. Congress reformed the program in the 1980s by taxing benefits based on income levels and by gradually increasing the full retirement age from 65 to 67.
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Apply For Retirement Benefits
Starting your Social Security retirement benefits is a major step on your retirement journey. This page will guide you through the process of applying for retirement benefits when youre ready to take that step. Our online application is a convenient way to apply on your own schedule, without an appointment. You can also apply by phone or by appointment at a Social Security office.
You Can Receive Benefits Before Your Full Retirement Age
You can start receiving your Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62, but the benefit amount will be lower than your full retirement benefit amount.
If you start receiving your benefits before your full retirement age, we will reduce your benefits based on the number of months you receive benefits before you reach your full retirement age.
If you wait until age 70 to start your benefits, your benefit amount will be higher because you will receive delayed retirement credits for each month you delay filing for benefits. There is no additional benefit increase after you reach age 70, even if you continue to delay starting benefits.
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Social Security Phone Number
You can contact Social Security by phone by calling their toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, their TTY phone number is 1-800-325-0778. You can use their automated telephone services to obtain recorded information and to conduct some business 24 hours a day. You can speak with a Social Security representative if you call between 7am and 7pm Monday through Friday. You can also reach their TTY number if you call between 7am and 7pm Monday through Friday. For instructions on their Automated services click here.
Who Qualifies For Social Security At What Age Do You Qualify For Social Security Benefits
Nearly one in five Americans receives some form of benefit from Social Security. Almost 80 years after its initiation, Social Security remains a vital lifeline for large numbers of Americans. Consider
- Nearly 40 million people receive retirement benefits with an average monthly benefit of $1,335.
- Another 9.5 million people receive disability benefits with an average monthly benefit of $1,165.
- Nearly 90 percent of people age 65 and older receive Social Security benefits, representing nearly 40 percent of their income.
- One in five married couples and about half of unmarried elderly Social Security beneficiaries rely on Social Security for at least 90 percent of their income.
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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
Are Social Security Checks Retroactive
You may be able to collect Social Security Benefits up to 6 months prior. However, if you choose to collect retroactive Social Security benefits you will lose any credits you earned during those months from delaying your retirement.
For example, say you wait until 70 years old to retire. However, when applying for your Social Security Retirement benefits, you decide to collect retroactive benefits, you will lose the benefits increase you previously received during those months.
So if you had received a 1.1% increase for each month you delay retiring, you will lose that payment increase for the months you receive a retroactive payment.
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What Information And Documents Do You Need To Apply
To apply for Social Security, youll have to provide the SSA with basic identifying information, such as your birthdate, Social Security number, number of dependents and citizenship status. Youll also need to provide work information, including your employers name and address and how much money you earned over the past two years. Documents you may need to provide include:
- your original birth certificate or other proof of birth
- proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if you were not born in the United States
- a copy of your U.S. military service paper and
- a copy of your W-2 form and/or self-employment tax return for last year
The Social Security Administration will contact you if you need to provide any additional information.
An Example Of Taxed Benefits
Lets say you receive the maximum Social Security benefit for a worker retiring at FRA in 2021: $3,148 per month. Your spouse receives half as much, or $1,574 a month. Together, you receive $4,722 a month, or $56,664 per year. Half of that, or $28,332, counts toward your combined income for determining whether you have to pay tax on part of your Social Security benefits. Lets further assume that you dont have any nontaxable interest, wages, or other income except for your traditional individual retirement accounts required minimum distribution of $10,000 for the year.
Your combined income would be $38,332half of your Social Security income, plus your IRA distributionwhich would make up to 50% of your Social Security benefits taxable because youve exceeded the $32,000 threshold. Now, you may be thinking, 50% of $56,664 is $28,332, and Im in the 12% tax bracket, so the tax on my Social Security benefits will be $3,399.84.
Fortunately, the calculation takes other factors into account, and your tax would be a mere $225. You can read all about the taxation of Social Security benefits in the Internal Revenue Service Publication 915.
What If I Delay Taking My Benefits
If you retire sometime between your full retirement age and age 70, you typically earn a “delayed retirement” credit . For example, say you were born in 1955 and your full retirement age is 66 and 2 months. If you started your benefits at age 68, you would receive a credit of 8% per year multiplied by approximately two . This makes your benefit ~15% higher than the amount you would have received at age 66.
That higher baseline lasts for the rest of your retirement and serves as the basis for future increases linked to inflation. While it’s important to consider your personal circumstancesit’s not always possible to wait, particularly if you are in poor health or can’t afford to delaythe benefits of waiting can be significant.
If you decide to wait past age 65, you may still need to sign up for Medicare. In some circumstances your Medicare coverage may be delayed and cost more if you do not sign up at age 65.
Social Security Spousal Benefits
You may be able to get spouses retirement benefits even if you have never worked under Social Security. Your spouse must already be receiving retirement or disability benefits and you must be at least 62 years of age, and you can also qualify for Medicare if you are at least 65 years of age. You can receive spousal benefits no matter how old you are if you are caring for your spouses child who is also receiving benefits. To receive benefits, a child must be unmarried and either be under age 18 or be age 18-19 and a full-time student they can also receive benefits if they are 18 or over and disabled with a disability that started before the age of 22.
You can also receive spousal benefits even if you are divorced, if the marriage lasted ten years or longer. You must be unmarried, at least 62, your spouse must be entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits, and the amount of the benefit you receive based on your own work must be less than the benefit you would receive from your ex-spouses work. To apply for Social Security spousal benefits, you can use the online application you can call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or for the deaf and hard of hearing, 1-800-325-0778 or you can make an appointment and visit your local Social Security office. If you do not live in the U.S. or in a U.S. territory, you can contact the nearest Social Security office, U.S. Embassy, or consulate
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If You Were Born Between 1943 And 1954 Your Full Retirement Age Is 66
You can start your Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62, but the benefit amount you receive will be less than your full retirement benefit amount.
The chart below provides examples of the percentage of your full retirement benefit amount you and your spouse would receive from age 62 up to your full retirement age.
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.
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What Happens If You Delay Past 70
If you don’t start your benefits once you reach 70, you can apply to receive up to six months’ worth of payments retroactively. But there’s no benefit in doing so. Delayed retirement credits stop once you reach 70, so you won’t get more money by holding out longer. Wait longer than six months and you’ve permanently forfeited those benefits you earned.
It’s important to note that your benefits won’t be affected if you’re still working, since you’re past full retirement age. In fact, working longer could even boost your future checks. Social Security calculates benefits based on your 35 highest-earning years. If you’re able to replace a lower-earning year with a higher-earning year, your benefit could increase since its calculated annually. But because you’ll be earning more money, more of your Social Security will be taxable.
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Are My Earning Included In The Specific Types Of Earnings List
There are certain types of earning that have different or additional rules. They are:
- Farm Work
- Start And Local Government Employment Wages
- Work Outside the United States
If your work falls under any of the above categories, visit the Social Security website here to learn more about the additional rules and factors of these Specific Earnings.
How Long Does It Take For My Application To Be Processed
In most cases, it takes anywhere from 3 to 5 months for your application to be processed and for a decision to be made.
The process depends on how long it takes Social Security to receive your records, go over your application, confirm your documentation, and calculate your benefits.
If you provided insufficient or incorrect documents, your application may be rejected. Make sure to double-check all the documents you provide. Confirm they are up to date, correct, and original copies.
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Theres A Social Security Spousal Benefit
Marriage brings couples an advantage when it comes to Social Security. One spouse can take what’s called a spousal benefit, worth up to 50% of the other spouse’s Social Security benefit. For example, if your monthly Social Security benefit is worth $2,000 but your spouse’s own benefit is only worth $500, your spouse can collect a spousal benefit worth $1,000 — bringing in $500 more in income per month.
Just as the benefit based on your own work history is reduced if you claim it early, the same is true for a spousal benefit. That 50% figure is the maximum amount that only a spouse who is at least full retirement age is eligible for. Taking the spousal benefit early at, say, age 62, reduces the amount to as little as 32.5% of the higher earners benefit. If you take your own benefit early and then later switch to a spousal benefit, your spousal benefit will still be reduced.