How You Can Make the Most of Social Security

5.10.19Just because you can take Social Security at age 62, doesn’t mean you should. Taking it earlier means that your monthly benefits will be reduced. The longer you can wait, ideally until age 70, the better.

Applying for Social Security benefits is a pretty simple process, according to Investopedia’s recent article, “When To Apply For Social Security Retirement Benefits.” The earliest you can apply is when you are 61 plus nine months, or four months before benefits are scheduled to begin. Your first Social Security payment will occur four months later, which is going to be the month after you celebrate your 62nd birthday. After that, benefit payments arrive after every full month that you are eligible, if you apply as soon as you are eligible.

Applications can be submitted either online, over the phone, or in person at your local Social Security office. A very convenient way to apply is online at the Social Security Administration website. The application itself takes about 15 minutes and can be saved at any point for future completion. This application can also be used to apply for Medicare.

You should apply three months before you’d like to start getting the checks. To be certain that it’s a quick and easy application process, have all the necessary information on hand before starting. This includes things like birth and marriage dates, Social Security number, proof of citizenship, tax information, employment history, military records, health insurance information and bank account information for direct deposit.

Once you’ve finished the application and supplied all the requested information, you’re given a receipt for your records and a confirmation number to monitor the status of your application online after submission. Depending on your situation and what documentation is required, your application may be approved in the same month you applied.

The benefit payment schedules are now dictated by date of birth. For people with birthdays between the 1st and 10th, payments will be made on the second Wednesday of every month. If your birthday is between the 11th and 20th, payment is made on the third Wednesday. For those born between the 21st and 31st, payments are made on the fourth Wednesday.

To spell it out step-by-step, if your 62nd birthday is December 15, the first benefit payment will arrive by the third Wednesday of the following February. If you are older than age 62, with the same December 15 birthday, then your first payment arrives on the third Wednesday of the month after you’ve applied for benefits.

One thing to be aware of: if you are already on Social Security or are going to receive both Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, you might receive the benefits on different dates.

Reference: Investopedia (June 25, 2019) “When To Apply For Social Security Retirement Benefits”

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