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How To Apply For Social Security Retirement Income

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When To Apply

Generally, Social Security advises that you apply for retirement benefits three months before you want your benefits to begin. Although Social Security has been one of the better performing bureaucracies, with too much lead time your paper work can easily get lost. Too short a period of time before the date you want your benefits to start may not give the government enough time.

Even if you have no plans to receive Social Security Retirement benefits because you plan to continue working, it is advisable to sign-up for Medicare 3 months before age 65.

How To Apply

You can apply for Social Security Retirement Income any of three ways:

  • Online
    • You can apply for Social Security Retirement benefits online at: offsite link.  Look for the box which has the words: "To start the application process..."
    • NOTE: You have to mark a box indicating that you have read the Privacy Act Statement before you can proceed. It is advisable to read the notice to understand what can and cannot be done with the information you provide online.
  • In person at a local Social Security office
    • You can apply for Social Security Retirement benefits at any local Social Security office. You can drop in, but it is preferable to call ahead for an appointment.
    • To locate an office, go to:  offsite link  To get the address, telephone number and directions, enter your postal ZIP code.
  • On the telephone
    • Call: 800.772.1213 (if you are deaf or hard of hearing, call 800.325.0778), Monday through Friday, 7:00AM to 7:00PM. Tell the representative that you want to apply for Social Security Retirement benefits.

Before beginning the process, it is advisable to decide the date when benefits are to start. Keep in mind that the amount of the benefit may be decreased or increased if you start benefits before or after obtaining Full Retirement Age. It is also advisable to have other required information available as well as necessary documentation such as acceptable proof of your date of birth.

NOTE: Whenever possible, we recommend that you apply for Social Security in person, at your local office, rather than over the telephone. As you will see below, Social Security requires originals of documents. If you apply in person, a Social Security employee will scan or photocopy your documents and immediately return them to you. If not, you can obtain a written receipt of what you submitted. The receipt can be very helpful if your file gets lost during processing.

What You Need To Apply For Social Security Retirement benefits: 

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