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How To Apply For Social Security Retirement Benefits

Retirement Income Benefits For Qualified Family Members

Applying Online for Social Security Retirement Benefits

Even if your spouse has never worked outside your home or in a job covered by Social Security, he or she may be eligible for spousal benefits based on your Social Security earnings record. Other members of your family may also be eligible. Retirement benefits are generally paid to family members who relied on your income for financial support. If you’re receiving retirement benefits, the members of your family who may be eligible for family benefits include:

  • Your spouse age 62 or older, if married at least one year
  • Your former spouse age 62 or older, if you were married at least 10 years
  • Your spouse or former spouse at any age, if caring for your child who is under age 16 or disabled
  • Your children under age 18, if unmarried
  • Your children under age 19, if full-time students or disabled
  • Your children older than 18, if severely disabled

Your eligible family members will receive a monthly benefit that is as much as 50 percent of your benefit. However, the amount that can be paid each month to a family is limited. The total benefit that your family can receive based on your earnings record is about 150 to 180 percent of your full retirement benefit amount. If the total family benefit exceeds this limit, each family member’s benefit will be reduced proportionately. Your benefit won’t be affected.

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Getting A Social Security Number For A New Baby

The easiest way to get a Social Security number for your child is at the hospital after they are born when you apply for your childs birth certificate. If you wait to apply for a number at a Social Security office, there may be delays while SSA verifies your childs birth certificate.

Your child will need their own Social Security number so you can:

  • Claim your child as a dependent on your income tax return
  • Open a bank account in their name
  • Get medical coverage for them
  • Apply for government services for them

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How Do I Apply Online

You will need to prepare all the relevant documents, confirm you qualify, and make sure you meet the requirements to apply online.

Once you have done that, sign in to your my Social Security account, select apply for Retirement/Medicare. This could take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes.

If you would like to take a break you can save your application as you go and come back later.

When you complete your application, make sure to submit it. A representative should contact you to update you or ask any further questions.

However, please be careful when taking ANY phone call about your Social Security benefits!!! Unfortunately, there are quite a few scams related to Social Security numbers. A Social Security officer will NEVER threaten you or say you will go to jail if you do not give them your personal information.

If you receive a phone call where someone says there is a charge against you, you will go to jail if you do not pay money or give us your information that is a scam! Hang up!

If you would like to confirm your application status it is safest to call the Social Security office yourself. If you initiate the call it is safer than receiving a call from someone you do not know.

How To Apply For Spousal Social Security Benefits

Breaking Down Social Security Retirement Benefits by Age

This article was written by Jennifer Mueller, JD. Jennifer Mueller is an in-house legal expert at wikiHow. Jennifer reviews, fact-checks, and evaluates wikiHow’s legal content to ensure thoroughness and accuracy. She received her JD from Indiana University Maurer School of Law in 2006.There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 39,437 times.

If you are married or divorced and nearing retirement age, you may be eligible for spousal Social Security benefits. Spousal benefits allow you to get up to 50 percent of the total benefits your spouse is eligible for without taking away from their benefits. If you’re eligible for your own retirement benefits, you’ll get those first. However, if your spouse was in the workforce longer than you or made more money, spousal benefits could add to the overall benefits you receive. You apply for spousal Social Security benefits the same way you claim your own retirement benefits.XResearch source

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Fact #: Social Security Provides A Foundation Of Retirement Protection For Nearly All People In The Us

97% of older adults either receive Social Security or will receive it.

Almost all workers participate in Social Security by making payroll tax contributions, and almost all older adults receive Social Security benefits. In fact, 97 percent of older adults either receive Social Security or will receive it, according to Social Security Administration estimates.

The near universality of Social Security brings many important advantages. It provides a foundation of retirement protection for people at all earnings levels. It encourages private pensions and personal saving because it isnt means-tested it doesnt reduce or deny benefits to people whose income or assets exceed a certain level. Social Security provides a higher annual payout than private retirement annuities per dollar contributed because its risk pool is not limited to those who expect to live a long time, no funds leak out in lump-sum payments or bequests, and its administrative costs are much lower.

Universal participation and the absence of means-testing make Social Security very efficient to administer. Administrative costs amount to only 0.6 percent of annual benefits, far below the percentages for private retirement annuities. Means-testing Social Security would impose significant reporting and processing burdens on both recipients and administrators, undercutting many of those advantages while yielding little savings.

Set Up A Phone Appointment

In contrast, a phone appointment might be the best balance of convenience and directly talking with a representative, and you dont have to be computer savvy either. You can call your local office or 1-800-772-1213 to reach the national line Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

Vredeveld says that his firms clients have had really good experiences when they pre-schedule an appointment, though it may not be possible to schedule an appointment earlier than one or two months out. So, plan accordingly.

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Can I Qualify For Ssi While Collecting Social Security Retirement Benefits

While you cannot collect Social Security retirement and SSDI at the same time to increase your benefits beyond the full retirement amount, there is a program that may allow you to collect additional income.

SSI, which stands for Supplemental Security Income, is a Social Security program that helps seniors and those with a disability who have an extremely low income or limited assets. To qualify for SSI, you need to meet strict income qualifications and have only a minimum amount of resources. Resources, as the SSA defines the term, can be anything that can be turned into cash, such as:

  • Bank accounts, stocks, or U.S. savings bonds

To Wait Or Not To Wait

Can I Apply For Social Security Retirement Benefits In Advance of Age 62

Consider taking benefits earlier if . . .

  • You are no longer working and can’t make ends meet without your benefits.
  • You are in poor health and don’t expect the surviving member of the household to make it to average life expectancy.
  • You are the lower-earning spouse, and your higher-earning spouse can wait to file for a higher benefit.

Consider waiting to take benefits if . . .

  • You are still working and make enough to impact the taxability of your benefits.
  • Either you or your spouse are in good health and expect to exceed average life expectancy.
  • You are the higher-earning spouse and want to be sure your surviving spouse receives the highest possible benefit.

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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.

How To Prepare For The Possibility Of Reduced Social Security Retirement Benefits

Just being aware that Social Security is likely to be less generous by the time we retire should be a sufficient wake-up call for us to make other plans. We can continue to plan to have Social Security as one source of income in retirement, but unquestionably, we need to be prepared to rely upon it far less than current retirees do.

How can we begin preparing for that now?

Live on less, save more. This is Personal Finance 101 live on less, save more, and invest the difference. Its the best strategy for preparing for retirement regardless of what happens with Social Security. By living beneath your means, you not only prepare yourself for a more frugal retirement but also enable yourself to save more money for that retirement.

Delay collecting Social Security benefits. Concerning Social Security, you can increase your monthly benefit by up to 8% each year if you delay retirement. If your normal retirement age is 67, and you delay collecting benefits until age 70, you can increase your monthly benefit by as much as 24%.

Get out of debt. You should plan to enter retirement in a debt-free position. You also eliminate monthly payments by paying off debts, lowering your living cost.

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Fact #: Social Security Benefits Are Modest

Social Security benefits are much more modest than many people realize the average Social Security retirement benefit in January 2022 was about $1,614 per month, or about $19,370 per year. For someone who worked all of their adult life at average earnings and retires at age 65 in 2022, Social Security benefits replace about 37 percent of past earnings. Social Securitys replacement rate fell as the programs full retirement age gradually rose from 65 in 2000 to 67 in 2022.

Most retirees enroll in Medicares Supplementary Medical Insurance and have Part B premiums deducted from their Social Security checks. As health care costs continue to outpace general inflation, those premiums will take a bigger bite out of their checks.

Social Security benefits are also modest by international standards. The U.S. ranks just outside the bottom third of developed countries in the percentage of an average workers earnings replaced by the public pension system.

Social Security is important for children and their families as well as for older adults. Over 6.5 million children under age 18 lived in families who received income from Social Security in 2019. That number included nearly 2.8 million children who received their benefits as dependents of retired, disabled, or deceased workers, as well as others who lived with parents or relatives who received Social Security benefits.

Social Security lifted 1.1 million children above the poverty line in 2020, as the chart shows.

Where Can I Get More Information

How to Apply Online For Social Security Retirement Benefits ...

The best place to start is the Social Security Administration website at ssa.gov. They have a helpful FAQ section with over 200 common questions and answers.

You can also call the Social Security helpline at 1-800-325-0778. Finally, you can visit your local Social Security office . Office hours are usually Monday-Friday from 7 am 7 pm.

The following writers contributed to this guide: Kevin Mercadante, Emily Guy Birken, and Miranda Marquit.

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Fact #: Social Security Lifts Millions Of Older Adults Above The Poverty Line

Without Social Security benefits, about 4 in 10 adults aged 65 and older would have incomes below the poverty line, all else being equal, according to official estimates based on the 2021 Current Population Survey. Social Security benefits lift more than 16 million older adults above the poverty line, these estimates show.

An important study on retirement income from the U.S. Census Bureau that matches Census estimates to administrative data suggests that the official estimates overstate older people’s reliance on Social Security. The study finds that in 2012, 3 in 10 older adults would have been poor without Social Security, and that the program lifted more than 10 million older adults above the poverty line.

No matter how it is measured, its clear that Social Security lifts millions of older adults above the poverty line and dramatically reduces their poverty rate.

How Long Does It Take For Me To Receive My First Check

Once your application is approved and your benefits have been calculated you should receive a check within 30-45 days of your retirement date. If you do not receive the check and you are sure your application was approved, call your local Social Security office to learn why you havent received our check.

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Earn Ssa Work Credits In Some Countries

You may not have enough credits from your work in the United States to qualify for retirement benefits. But, you may be able to count your work credits from another country. The SSA has agreements with 24 countries. If you earned credits in one of those countries, they can help you qualify for U.S. benefits.

Why Would My Application Be Rejected Or My Benefits Denied

When You Should Apply for Social Security to Maximize Your Benefits!

Some of the most common reasons an application is rejected or benefits are denied are:

  • Insufficient documentation provided
  • The SSA could not locate or contact you
  • You refuse to cooperate and provide the necessary information
  • You commit fraud
  • To reject or deny your application Social Security must have reasonable legal grounds. If your application is rejected you can contact the Social Security office to learn why it was rejected and the steps you can take to reapply.

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    Social Security And Fairness

    Individuals are eligible for the highest benefit to which they are entitled, which includes benefits accrued by a spouse during a long-term marriage. Social Security recognizes that not all contributions to a working marriage are financial. This means that spouses who give up working outside the home or working full time for a marriage that eventually ends will not find themselves up a creek in retirement.

    Personal Information And Documents Needed To Apply For Social Security

    When youre filling out a Social Security retirement benefits application, youll need to provide lots of information about yourself. We already mentioned that your birthday is part of that, but it goes far beyond that. Youll also need to share your Social Security number, place of birth, and when you want to begin receiving benefits.

    Youll also need to share information about your spouse, including their name, date of birth, and Social Security number. The place and date of marriages, divorces, and deaths will also need to be disclosed, which marriage and divorce documents can help with. Those with children under 18, under 19 and still in school, or disabled children will also need to provide their names.

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    Documentation Of Military Service

    If you were a part of the military before 1968, the Social Security benefits application will ask for a copy of your military service papers. These could include your certification of discharge or release from active duty. While applying for benefits, you will likely need to send a few documents from above to the SSA. Keep in mind that all of these documents, whether photocopies or original records, will be returned to you.

    How Long Does It Take For My Application To Be Processed

    When to Apply for Social Security Retirement Benefits

    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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