By Brian Hewitt
If you’re planning on retiring sometime early in the new year, now is the time to apply for retirement benefits. The most convenient way to apply for Social Security benefits is online — from the comfort of your home or office. Just go to www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline.
Our Web site will walk you through the online retirement application process. We will tell you what information you will need to answer the questions on the application. Further, we will describe the documents you may need to present once you have submitted your application.
Before you start your application, we recommend you get an estimate of your retirement benefit. This too, you can do on the Social Security Web site at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator. The Retirement Estimator uses your personal employment history to estimate your retirement benefit. It also will help you to answer some of the questions on the retirement application.
You can use the online application to apply for Social Security retirement or spouses benefits if you:
• are at least 61 years and 9 months old;
• want to start your benefits in the next four months; and
• live in the United States.
You will want to be fully informed of your options and their consequences before applying. The Web site will tell you everything you need to know about the Social Security “basics” so you’ll be ready to retire when you apply online.
Before filing online for retirement, we suggest you have the following information on hand:
Your date and place of birth and Social Security number;
Your bank or financial institution’s routing transit number and the account number, for direct deposit of your benefits;
The amount of money earned last year and this year. If you are filing for benefits in the months of September through December, you also will need to estimate next year’s earnings;
The name and address of your employer(s) for this year and last year;
The beginning and ending dates of any active U.S. military service you had before 1968;
The name, Social Security number and date of birth or age of your current spouse and any former spouse. You also should know the dates and places of marriage and dates of divorce or death (if appropriate); and
A copy of your Social Security Statement.
Even if you don’t have all the information we need, you should go ahead and apply. We will contact you later if we need additional documentation.
Applying online means there is no need for you to go to a Social Security office or wait for a scheduled appointment with a Social Security representative. Besides, retiring online is so easy. You can apply in as little as 15 minutes.
So if you want to start the new year off as a retiree, or plan to start collecting benefits early in the new year, now’s the time to take action. Don’t delay; apply online today at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline.