Beginning your Social Security retirement benefits is a significant step toward retirement.
It’s tempting to take the money and run as soon as you’re eligible for Social Security, which is usually at age 62.
However, if you receive Social Security payments before the age of 62 instead of waiting until you reach full retirement age (FRA), you can expect a 30 percent drop in monthly benefits, with smaller reductions as you approach FRA.
Keep in mind that FRA isn’t 65 anymore: Depending on your birth year, it now ranges from 66 to 67. Your benefit is also used to determine your annual cost-of-living change (COLA).
As a result, if you claim Social Security at the age of 62 and begin with reduced benefits, your COLA-adjusted payment will be lowered as well.
Meanwhile, your benefit will be bigger if you wait to claim your Social Security payment.
You will receive an 8% increase in your benefit for each year you delay your claim past your FRA. If you wait until you’re 70 to claim, you’ll get at least a 24% increase in your monthly payment.
However, consider how much you’ve saved for retirement, your other sources of retirement income, and your expectations for longevity before making your decision.
While many people may profit by deferring Social Security payments until they reach the age of 70, others may require this source of guaranteed income sooner to help pay their obligations or may not live long enough to realize the benefits of deferring.
Now you’re ready, this article will walk you through the process of applying for retirement benefits.
The online application allows you to apply on your own time and without making an appointment.
You can also apply for Social Security benefits over the phone or by making an appointment at a Social Security office.
Let’s help you get started.
Table of Contents Hide
- When Should I Apply for Social Security in Order to Start at age 62?
- When Will I Be Eligible to Receive Social Security Benefits?
- What are the Rules for Collecting Social Security at age 62?
- Can you Apply for Social Security at 62 and Still Work?
- What Do I Need to Know Before I Apply for Social Security Benefits?
- How to Apply for Social Security Benefits at age 62
- What Is the Process for Applying for Social Security Benefits?
- Applying for Social Security Benefits: A Step-by-Step Guide
- After you’ve Submitted your Application
- What Will My Social Security Benefit Be?
- Who Can Get Benefits from your Income Record?
The earliest you can apply is four months before the month you want your benefits to begin, and the earliest your benefits can begin is the month you turn 62.
If you turn 62 in June, for example, your benefits will start in July, and you can apply as early as March.
There is one exception: if you were born on the first or second day of a month, you can start receiving benefits the next month.
For example, if you were born on October 1 or 2, 1959, you will be 62 as of September 30 or October 1, 2022, according to Social Security. Benefits will begin in October 2022, and you can apply for them beginning in June.
If you were born between October 3 and October 31, however, November will be your first complete month at the age of 62. You can apply in July if you want to start receiving benefits right away.
Check Out: How To Apply For A New Social Security Card
The benefit payment is delayed by one month. If you were born on October 1 or 2, you are eligible for an October benefit, which will be paid in November. If you were born after October 1, your first benefit month is November, and you will receive payment in December.
You lose a percentage of your monthly payment if you file at 62 or before reaching full retirement age. If you were born in 1960 or later, for example, filing at 62 might save you up to 30% on your monthly payment.
The AARP’s Social Security Benefits Calculator can show you how filing early can lower your benefits.
Check Also; How To Apply For A New Social Security Card
You must be 62 years old to begin receiving retirement benefits. When you reach the age of 61 and 9 months, you can apply.
If you begin collecting before reaching full retirement age, or FRA, Social Security cuts your amount. (FRA 66 and 2 months for those born in 1955, rising to 67 for those born in 1960 and later.)
Only then will you be eligible for 100% of your basic monthly benefit, which is based on your 35 highest-earning years.
If you wait until you’re 70 to apply, you’ll earn more delayed retirement credits, which will increase your payment even more. (If you apply after the age of 70, your benefit will not be affected.)
Other types of Social Security benefits may have a different start age:
- Spousal benefits can start as early as age 62, as long as the spouse whose work record you’re claiming is already receiving retirement benefits.
- You can apply for survivor benefits on the record of a deceased spouse or ex-spouse when you are 60 years old; 50 years old if you are disabled; or any age if you are caring for the deceased’s under-16 or disabled child.
Social Security Disability Insurance does not have a minimum age requirement.
You may be eligible for disability benefits with less work experience than required for retirement benefits, but you must show that your medical condition meets Social Security’s strict definition of disability and prevents you from working.
According to a 2018 report by the agency’s inspector general, there is a massive backlog of pending disability cases.
What are the Rules for Collecting Social Security at age 62?
Following are the guidelines:
- If you are under the age of 24 and have earned six work credits in the three years preceding your disability, you may be eligible.
- If you worked half-time between the age of 21 and the time you became incapacitated, you might be eligible.
FOR EXAMPLE, if you become incapacitated at the age of 27, you’d require 12 work credits from the previous six years (between age 21 and age 27).
In general, the amount of work credits stated in the chart below is required. In the ten years preceding your disability, you must have earned at least 20 of the credits.
“Work credits” are the units of measurement for their work. Based on your annual wages, you can get up to four work credits per year. Each year, as general salary levels rise, the amount of earnings required for a labor credit increases.
You must have earned an average of one work credit for each calendar year between the age of 21 and the year you turn 62 or become crippled or blind, up to a maximum of 40 credits, to be eligible for most types of benefits (such as payments based on blindness or retirement).
Regardless of your age, you must have a minimum of six work credits.
You must have worked long enough and recently enough under Social Security’s rules to be eligible for benefits based on a disability other than blindness.
The number of work credits you’ll need to qualify for disability payments is determined by your age at the time of your disability.
In most cases, you’ll need 20 work credits acquired in the ten years preceding your disability. Younger workers, on the other hand, may just need a few credits to qualify.
Take some time to learn the fundamentals, understand the application process, and assemble the documentation you’ll need to submit an application.
1. Review the Basics of Retirement Benefits
You can begin receiving retirement benefits as early as 62 years old or as late as 70 years old.
Knowing when you’re eligible to apply for retirement benefits and understanding how the system works are the first steps in determining what age is best for you.
Learn About Retirement Benefits before submitting an application to ensure you understand:
- How to determine if you are eligible for Social Security benefits.
- What impact your earnings and age have on your benefits.
- What to think about while selecting when to begin getting benefits.
- Spouses and family members are eligible for retirement benefits.
2. Recognize the Application Procedures
Whether you apply for retirement benefits online, via phone, or in person, the process follows these fundamental steps:
- Gather the documents and information you’ll need to apply.
- Fill out the application and send it in.
- They’ll look over your application and get in touch with you if they need more information.
- They will send you a letter informing you of their decision.
- You start receiving your retirement benefits.
3. How Early Can I Apply?
To be eligible for benefits, you must be at least 62 for the full month.
You will meet this criterion in the month of your 62nd birthday if you were born on the first or second day of the month.
If you were born on a different day of the month, you will have to wait until the next month to complete this condition.
You have up to four months to apply before your retirement benefits begin. If you turn 62 on December 2, for example, you can begin receiving benefits in December.
You can apply in August if you want your benefits to start in December. If you turn 62 after December 2nd, they will not consider you to be 62 for the entire month of December.
When you turn 62 in January, you can begin receiving benefits for the full month. You can apply in September if you want your benefits to start in January.
They pay benefits from Social Security in the month after the month in which they are due.
If you are eligible for December benefits, you will receive your first payment in January.
4. Making an Application As A Spouse Or Family Member
You may be eligible for retirement benefits based on the record of your spouse or ex-spouse.
Similarly, if your spouse or a family member qualifies, they may be able to obtain benefits based on your record.
Find out more about Family Benefits.
If you are the surviving husband, divorced spouse, family member, or parent of a deceased worker, visit Survivors Benefits to learn more about how Social Security survivor benefits apply to your case.
5. Gather the Data you’ll Need to Apply
Prepare to supply your Social Security number as well as information about:
- Dates of your current and prior marriages, as well as the location of your weddings.
- Dates and branches of military duty in the United States.
- Employer names and dates over the last two years are listed below.
- Income from self-employment and the type of business.
- To set up your direct deposit, you’ll need the following information from your bank.
- Information on family members who may be eligible to receive benefits on your record.
They will request certain documents in order for us to assess and process your application.
These documents may include the following:
- Your original birth certificate or other forms of identification proving your age. The original document or a certified copy from the issuing agency must be used.
- If you were not born in the United States and have not previously provided proof for a Medicare or Social Security claim, you must provide proof of citizenship. They need to see the original document(s) or certified copies from the issuing agency. They do not accept documents that are expired, notarized, or photocopied.
- A copy of your last year’s W-2 tax form(s) and/or self-employment tax return A photocopy will suffice.
- If you served before 1968, a copy of your US military service papers. A photocopy will suffice.
Gather the documents listed on their Checklist for Online Medicare, Retirement, and Spouses Application as you prepare to apply for benefits.
At the end of the online application, you’ll get instructions on how to send your documents.
If you’re applying over the phone, gather the information listed above. On the phone, they’ll walk you through the steps.
When calling to book an appointment, ask your local Social Security office what you need to bring if you’re applying in person. If you don’t have all of your paperwork right now, they can assist you.
The process of applying for Social Security payments is quite straightforward. Online, over the phone, or in person at your local Social Security office, applications are accepted (although those offices are open by appointment only).
The easiest approach to apply is through the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) website’s online platform.
It takes 10 to 30 minutes to finish the application, and you can save it at any moment to be completed later. It is also possible to apply for Medicare using this program.
It’s always a good idea to apply a few months before you want to receive payments.
It is best to have all of the relevant information on hand before beginning the application process to guarantee a speedy and smooth application procedure.
This can contain your and your spouse’s birth and marriage dates, your Social Security number, evidence of citizenship, tax information, employment history, military records, and direct deposit bank account information, among other things.
Original birth certificates, marriage licenses, and tax returns are some of the documents that are occasionally asked.
If any clarification or extra evidence is required, an agent will generally contact you.
An agent can also tell you if you’re eligible for more money through someone else’s account, such as a spouse’s, and if anybody else is eligible for benefits under your account.
They will issue you a receipt for your records once you have finished your application and provided all needed information, as well as a confirmation number that you can use to monitor the progress of your application online after submission.
You can also contact your local Social Security office by phone or in person.
Depending on your circumstances and the evidence required, they can approve your application the same month you submit it.
Schedules of Payment
Furthermore, the recipient’s date of birth now determines the benefit payment schedule.
They will make payments on the second Wednesday of each month for people with birthdays from the first to the tenth of the month.
Also, for those born between the 11th and the 20th of the month, payment is made on the third Wednesday of the month.
For those born between the 21st and the 31st of the month, payments are made on the fourth Wednesday of the month.
If you turn 62 on December 15, your first payment will arrive on the third Wednesday of February the following year.
If your birthday is December 15 and you are over the age of 62, they will make your first payment on the third Wednesday of the month after you apply.
Then, if you already receive Social Security or both Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, you might get them on a different day.
You can apply for Social Security benefits online, by phone, or by making an appointment at a local Social Security office if you are eligible.
The simplest way to apply for Social Security benefits is to do so online.
Applying online is the quickest and most convenient way to finish your application at your leisure, without having to go to the Social Security office.
You can also submit an application over the phone or in person at a Social Security office. This section will explain the various options available to you.
You can apply for retirement, spouse’s, Medicare, and disability benefits all at once on the Social Security website.
You can also apply for SSI benefits (Supplemental Security Income).
To apply online, follow these steps:
- To begin your application, go to their Apply for Benefits page, read the Terms of Service, and agree to them. “Next” should be selected.
- Review the “Getting Ready” portion of that page to ensure you have all of the information you’ll need to apply.
- “Start A New Application” is the option to choose.
- They’ll ask a few questions to find out who’s filling out the form.
- You will next be requested to sign into your my Social Security account or to establish one.
- Fill out the application completely.
Useful Hints for the Online Application
They’ve worked hard to make applying online as straightforward as possible while still ensuring the security of your personal information.
If you leave the online application open for over 25 minutes doing nothing, you will receive a security warning. If you receive this notice, you have the option of extending your stay on the page.
However, if you do not switch to another page after the third warning, they will not store your information.
Here are some more pointers on how to use the online application:
- You can skip to the next question and come back later if you get stuck on a question.
- If necessary, you can save your application and return to it later. Go to “Return to a Saved Application” the next time you sign in.
- Periods, commas, and other special characters are not permitted in some replies, including addresses. If you receive an error notice, go back and enter the information without periods or other special characters.
Now is the time to begin your application.
Signing the Online Application
You’ll have the opportunity to go over your responses and make any necessary adjustments.
They’ll ask you to confirm that your answers are accurate to the best of your knowledge once you’ve completed everything.
If you provide intentionally inaccurate or misleading information, they may hold you accountable.
The final step is to click “Submit Now” to “sign” the online application. Using the confirmation number they offer, you can check the status of your submitted application.
Assisting Someone Else with an Online Application
You may assist someone else in filling out their application, but you may not sign it on their behalf.
The individual who is applying for benefits can only legitimately sign the application.
They will mail them a copy to sign if they are unable to sign online. Learn more about assisting someone with an online application.
You can sign up by phone if you don’t have an Internet connection.
You can reach the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213. (TTY at 1-800-325-0778) from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
You can do most of your Social Security transactions online. If you cannot use these online services, your local Social Security office ccannotan assist you in completing your application.
Although their offices are closed to the public, workers from those locations are answering phones and aiding people.
Using their Field Office Locator and clicking under Social Security Office Information, you may get the phone number for your local office.
However, during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Social Security Administration has placed restrictions on office visits.
Certain services allow for in-person visits. To determine if you may book an in-person appointment at your local SSA office, go to the SSA’s Coronavirus page.
You can reach your local office using the toll-free “Office” number.
After you’ve Submitted your Application
They’ll review your application and notify you if they have questions after they receive it.
Before they can process your application, they may need to get more documentation from you.
Keep an Eye Out for Response
You will receive a letter containing their decision.
If you provided information about other family members when you applied, they’ll let you know if they qualify for benefits as a result of your application.
Examine the Situation
Using your unique my Social Security account, you can monitor the status of your application online.
If you are unable to check your status online, you may call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Appeal A Decision
You may challenge any decision they make about your eligibility for benefits.
Within 60 days of obtaining their decision, you must submit a written request for an appeal.
There are four appeal levels:
- Reconsideration by Social Security staff.
- A hearing before an administrative law judge.
- A review by Social Security’s Appeals Council.
- A review by the federal courts.
Withdraw Your Application
Life changes can happen after you submit your application. If you change your mind, you have up to 12 months to withdraw your application.
Any benefits you’ve already received will have to be repaid. Find out more about how to withdraw your Social Security retirement application.
They calculate your retirement benefit using your lifetime earnings from jobs that required you to pay Social Security taxes. Higher-income equates to a larger benefit (up to a point — see below for more information).
Other criteria, such as your age when you apply for benefits, have an impact on the amount you are eligible for.
We estimate the average monthly Social Security retirement benefit in 2022 to be $1,543.
For someone filing for Social Security in 2022 at full retirement age, or FRA, the maximum benefit — the most an individual retiree can get — is $3,148 per month (the age at which you qualify for 100 percent of the benefit calculated from your earnings history).
Although you won’t know your exact amount until you apply, there are ways to estimate it ahead of time.
The AARP’s Social Security Benefits Calculator or your online My Social Security account are the quickest and easiest ways to figure out your benefits. The latter uses your Social Security earnings record; the AARP calculator requires your average annual income.
Both tools estimate how much money you could get each month if you started Social Security at age 62, the earliest age you can file; at full retirement age, which is currently 66 and 2 months and gradually rises to 67; and at age 70.
If you file early between the ages of 62 and 70, Social Security reduces your benefit; if you wait until the age of 70, it increases your payment.
According to the AARP calculator, a person born on January 1, 1959, with a $50,000 annual income would receive a monthly benefit of $1,264 if they file for Social Security at age 62, $1,785 at full retirement age (66 years and 10 months in this case), or $2,237 at age 70.
The AARP tool can also provide figures for all ages in between, as well as assess the impact of working on your benefits and assist you in planning for your retirement years.
If you call the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213, you can get basic benefit estimates.
However, keep in mind that the figures are estimates, not guarantees, regardless of where they came from.
Your actual benefit will vary, possibly significantly, depending on your earnings, cost-of-living adjustments, whether you work after claiming benefits, and changes in the Social Security law.
The amount of your earnings that Social Security considers when calculating your benefit is little. The cap for 2022 is $142,800 (annually adjusted to reflect historical wage trends).
They do not take any additional earnings into account when calculating your benefits (and is also not subject to Social Security taxes).
Who Can Get Benefits from your Income Record?
Your spouse may be eligible for retirement or disability benefits if he or she is:
- if you are 62 years old or older; or if you are 62 years old or
- divorced from you and was married to you for at least 10 years prior to your divorce, and is at least 62 years old; or
If your surviving spouse (widow or widower) meets the following criteria, he or she may be eligible for benefits:
- a person who is 60 years old or older; or a person who is 60 years
- disabled and over the age of 50;
- divorced from you, 60 years old or older (50 if disabled), and married to you for at least 10 years prior to your divorce; or
- under the age of 60 and caring for a child (under the age of 16 or disabled prior to the age of 22) who is eligible for child benefits; or under the age of 60 and caring for a child (under the age of 16 or disabled prior to the age of 22) who is eligible for child benefits;
- divorced from you, under the age of 60, and caring for his or her child (under the age of 16 or disabled before the age of 22) who is eligible for benefits based on your record.
Based on the worker’s record, a dependent parent(s) of a deceased worker, aged 62 or older, may be eligible for benefits.
Children of disabled, retired, or deceased workers who are not married may be eligible if they meet the following criteria:
- 18 years old or younger; or
- 18-19 years old and enrolled full-time in a secondary school (no higher than grade 12); or 18-19 years old and enrolled full-time in a secondary school (no higher than grade 12);
- You must be at least 18 years old and have had a disability since you were 22 years old.
Stepchildren, grandchildren, step-grandchildren, and adopted children may be eligible for benefits under certain circumstances.
While receiving Social Security payments, you can continue to work. However, there is a limit to how much money you can make while still receiving full benefits. Each year, the earning cap may be modified.
The earliest age at which you can apply for Social Security benefits is 61 years and nine months. Your first Social Security check would arrive four months later, the month following your 62nd birthday.
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), an individual filing a claim for Social Security retirement benefits in 2022 can get the following maximum monthly Social Security benefit:
Many individuals want to retire as soon as they can afford it, but it’s important to consider the earning and investing potential you’ll lose if you stop working full-time and start collecting Social Security at the age of 62.
If you leave a job with good pay and benefits, it may be difficult to reclaim those benefits if you ever need or want to return to work.
Of course, not everyone can continue working, but if you are fit and have the ability to work full-time or part-time, it is something to think about.
- aarp.org – When should I apply for Social Security in order to start at age 62?
- aarp.org – When can I collect Social Security?
- ssa.gov – Apply for Retirement Benefits
- ssa.gov – SOCIAL SECURITY ENTITLEMENT REQUIREMENTS