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Social Security How To Apply For Retirement Benefits

Essential Documents Needed To Apply For Social Security Retirement Benefits

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

Now that you have an idea of what kind of information will be needed for your application, its time to start getting your documents together. Some of these things might seem like common sense, while others you might not think to gather if you werent aware that they were needed. If you dont have access to all of these documents, now is an excellent time to see what is missing and determine the best way to replace it.

Some of the documents you may be asked for include:

  • Your Social Security card or a record of the number
  • Proof of U.S citizenship or lawful alien status if you were born outside the country
  • An original birth certificate or a certified copy if you were born in the United States
  • A copy of your U.S. military service papers if you served before 1968
  • A copy of your self-employment tax return or W-2 forms for the previous years
  • Bank information for making deposits

Those who have already verified their age, lawful alien status, or citizenship for a Social Security or Medicare claim may not need to provide all of this proof again. After the documents have been processed, they will be returned to you unless you request an alternative.

The Social Security Pension Requirement

The minimum number of years worked to apply for Social Security retirement benefits is 10 years. You will be able to apply for retirement only after working this time. Until you work all that time, a United States citizen cannot apply for retirement. In addition to this, the minimum age for retirement is 62. It is possible to collect the retirement benefit only from that age. It is not possible before that age. On the other hand, Social Security disability benefits are different and can be collected before that age.

Even so, it is an indispensable requirement, since you will not be able to start your retirement benefit until you reach the age of 62. On the other hand, there are also exceptions in this sector. These exceptions are related to people with disabilities. Contact your local office if you have any type of disability, as both the retirement age and the requirements for years worked may change in your particular case.

In any case, getting the maximum benefit of 4,194 requires working more than 10 years. The minimum number of years worked to reach this large figure is 35 years. Otherwise, it is impossible to reach $4,194. This is the only way to get the maximum Social Security. Even so, in the coming year 2023 this figure will increase due to the COLA. Remember to work 35 years with a good salary and apply for the subsidy at the highest possible retirement age.

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.

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Effect Of Delaying Retirement Benefits

1Represents Full Retirement Age based on DOB January 2, 1960

2PIA = The primary insurance amount is the basis for benefits that are paid to an individual

That higher baseline would last for the rest of your retirement and serve as the basis for future increases linked to inflation. While it’s important to consider your personal circumstancesâit’s not always possible to wait, particularly if you are in poor health or can’t afford to delayâthe benefits of waiting can be significant.

Be aware that 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 don’t sign up at age 65. If you start Social Security benefits early, you’ll automatically be enrolled into Medicare Parts A and B when you turn age 65.

Your annual Social Security statement will list your projected benefits between age 62 to 70, assuming you continue to work and earn about the same amount through those ages. If you need a copy of your annual statement, you can request one or view it online on the Social Security Administration portal.

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Form SSA

About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is The Military Wallets founder. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over six years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the Illinois Air National Guard.

Ryan started The Military Wallet in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about personal finance and investing at Cash Money Life.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free Personal Capital account here.

Featured In: Ryans writing has been featured in the following publications: Forbes, Military.com, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, Reserve & National Guard Magazine , Military Influencer Magazine, Cash Money Life, The Military Guide, USAA, Go Banking Rates, and many other publications.

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Other Information Your Social Security Application May Ask For

If youre married, youll also need to provide your spouses name, Social Security number , date of birth and age. Youll also need to have the date and place of marriage, and this goes for any former spouses as well. For logistical purposes, youll want to indicate what month you want your benefits to begin, and youll need to provide your banks routing number and your account number.

As part of your application, you can also indicate if you would like to enroll in Medicare Part B, but youll have to be eligible.

You should also note in your application if:

  • You have any unmarried children under the age of 18 or disabled children under the age of 22.
  • Youve ever filed for Social Security benefits, Medicare or Supplemental Security Income on your behalf
  • Youve ever used a different SSN

How To Get A Social Security Card

  • Gather your documents. Learn what documents you’ll need to get a card. Select your situation:
  • Original, replacement, or corrected card
  • U.S. born citizen, foreign-born U.S. citizen, or noncitizen
  • Apply online for a replacement card. Apply online if youre not changing anything on your card and you are eligible. This option is available in most states. You will need to make a my Social Security account first. Or complete an application. If you can not apply online, fill out an application and return it to the SSA. Find out where to take it in person or mail it.
  • Read Also: What Are Taxable Social Security Benefits

    Report The Death Of A Social Security Or Medicare Beneficiary

    You must report the death of a family member receiving Social Security or Medicare benefits. The Social Security Administration processes death reports for both. Find out how you can report a death and how to cancel benefit payments. In addition to canceling SSA and Medicare benefits, find out what other benefits and accounts you should cancel.

    What Is The Future Of Social Security

    Best Time to Apply for Social Security | Social Security Retirement Benefits Explained

    As of June 2022, the Social Security Trust Fund is projected to have enough resources to cover all promised benefits until 2035 when, absent a change from Congress, benefits would need to be cut for all current and future beneficiaries to about 80% of scheduled benefits.2 Over the longer term, changes to the full retirement age or means testingâwhich could reduce or eliminate benefits based on your other income sourcesâmay also be considered.

    If you’re skeptical about the future of Social Security or wary of potential changes, you may be tempted to start benefits early, assuming that it’s better to have something than nothing. Regardless of your situation, if you are concerned about the future prospects for Social Security, then that’s a good reason to save moreâand earlierâfor your retirement.

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    What Documents Do I Need To Submit

    To apply for Social Security Benefit you need the following documents:

    • Your Social Security card or a record of your SSN
    • Your original birth certificate, a certified copy from the issuing agency, or another kind of proof of your age. Photocopies or notarized copies are NOT accepted.
    • If youre not U.S.-born you will need to have proof of lawful alien status or U.S. citizenship. Expired documents, notarized copies, or photocopies are not accepted.
    • If you served in the military before 1968, you need to provide a copy of your U. S. military service paper. You can submit a photocopy of this document.
    • Self-employment tax return for the previous year and/or a copy of your W-2 form . You can submit a photocopy of this document as well.

    You can view the Social Security Checklist For Retirement, Medicare, and Spouses Application here.

    If you have applied for Medicare or a Social Security claim, you should have already provided proof of age and/or citizenship. In this case, you may not need to submit proof of age or U.S. citizenship again.

    It is recommended to apply for Social Security benefits as soon as you can. If you do not have all the above documents ready, you could still start the application process. Missing documents can be provided later.

    If you delay applying for your benefits, you may lose out on receiving them.

    Documents You Need When Applying For Social Security

    When its time to apply for your Social Security benefits, youll need to have the following documents in hand:

    • Your Social Security card
    • Your original birth certificate, or a certified copy
    • Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status
    • Military service papers, if applicable
    • Your W-2 form from the last year

    If you cant access any of these documents for one reason or another, dont hold off on applying. Your local Social Security office can help you obtain certified copies or equivalent information, or you can submit them later on in the process. Delaying signing up for benefits could result in you losing benefits.

    Note that the SSA can accept photocopies of some of these documents, such as your W-2 and tax returns. However, youll need to submit the original of other forms, such as your birth certificate.

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    How Do You Apply For Ssa Retirement Benefits

    You can apply for Social Security benefits online via the SSAs benefits application form. The SSA says that you should apply four months before you want your retirement benefits to start.

    You can also apply via phone by calling 800-772-1213. When Social Security Administration offices are open to the public, you can also get help with applying for benefits in your local office.

    Can I Qualify For Ssi While Collecting Social Security Retirement Benefits

    When to Apply for 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

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    If You’re Not Sure Why You Received A Payment

    If you receive a check or direct deposit payment from the Treasury Department and do not know what its for, contact the regional financial center that issued it. Only the agency that authorized the payment can explain why you received it.

    If you received a check, look for the RFCs city and state at the top center. Then contact that RFC to find out which federal agency authorized the payment. It will be one of these:

    If you received payment byelectronic funds transfer , or direct deposit, follow the directions under Find Information About a Payment.

    Use the Treasury Check Verification System to verify that the check is legitimate and issued by the government.

    Why Suspending Your Benefits Can Boost Your Future Raises

    Delayed retirement credits boost the size of your benefits by 8% for every year that you suspend taking monthly checks. That’s on top of whatever increase you would get from annual COLAs.

    As an example, say that your retirement benefit was $1,500 per month in 2022 and you decide to suspend your benefits for 12 months in 2023. Applying the 8.7% COLA, you’ll give up 12 checks that would’ve been $1,630.50 per month, for a total of $19,566 in benefits given up.

    Say that the COLA for 2024 turns out to be 4%. In that case, if you hadn’t suspended your benefits, you’d receive about $1,696 each month in 2024. However, if you suspended your benefits for a year, then you’d get an extra 8% boost to $1,831 per month. That’s 12.3% higher than what your 2023 monthly benefit would have been — effectively giving you an even bigger 2024 raise than you would’ve gotten in 2023 if you hadn’t suspended your benefits.

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    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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    What If I Change My Mind

    Applying Online for Social Security Retirement Benefits

    If you receive Social Security benefits at a reduced rate but then change your mind, you have the option of withdrawing your application within the first 12 months of receiving benefits and paying back to the government what you’ve already received . Then, you could restart benefits at a later date to take advantage of a higher payout. Be aware that you’re limited to one withdrawal per lifetime.

    For example, let’s say you elected to receive early benefits at age 62 but then decided to go back to work at age 63. You could withdraw your Social Security application, pay back the years’ worth of benefits you received, go back to work, and then wait until your full retirement age to restart your benefit checks at a higher level.

    Once you reach full retirement age, another option is to voluntarily stop benefits at any point before age 70 to receive delayed retirement credits . Benefits will automatically restart at age 70 at a higher amountâunless you choose to start taking benefits before then. Note that when you withdraw your application or stop your benefits after full retirement age, you must specify if your Medicare coverageâif you have itâshould be included in the withdrawal.

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    Brief History Of Social Security

    The Social Security program was created by the Social Security Act that President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law in 1935. The first checks went out in 1940. Originally it paid benefits only to workers 65 and older, but in the 1970s the government altered it to allow workers to claim benefits as early as 62. It also instituted annual cost-of-living adjustments to help Social Security keep pace with inflation.

    The program has worked fairly well so far, but many people fear for the future, when there will be fewer workers to support a greater number of Social Security recipients. The latest Social Security Trustees’ Report indicates the program’s trust funds would be depleted by 2034, after which it would be able to pay out only about 76% of benefits to retirees and about 92% to disabled workers.

    The government has proposed several possible solutions for ensuring the long-term sustainability of the program, but at present no plans have been set. There’s no risk of the program disappearing in the next decade or two, but it’s possible future benefits may not go as far as they do today. That’s why today’s workers need to prioritize their personal retirement savings, so they can cover most of their expenses on their own.

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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.

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    The Problem With Social Security’s 59% Cola In 2022

    Inflation erodes the purchasing power of money over time. For that reason, $100 will buy fewer goods today than it did five years ago, and far fewer goods that it did a few decades ago. That slow loss of purchasing power is a problem for retired workers on Social Security, and COLAs are the solution.

    Specifically, Social Security checks get an annual COLA to protect benefits from inflation, and those COLAs are calculated based on changes in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers in the third quarter of each year. For instance, the CPI-W increased 5.9% in the third quarter of 2021, so a 5.9% COLA was applied to benefits in 2022.

    However, as noted earlier, the 2022 COLA actually failed to protect the buying power of benefits, and the chart below illustrates what went wrong. Inflation has increased far more quickly than 5.9% over the past year.



    Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. Note: inflation reflects the year-over-year change in the CPI-W.

    Inflation data for December is not yet available, but the CPI-W increased by an average of 8.7% through the first 11 months of 2022. That means the 5.9% COLA underestimated the rate of inflation by 2.8 percentage points, which effectively translated into a pay cut for retired workers and other Social Security beneficiaries.

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