According to the Social Security Administration government site, you can apply for retirement benefits easily online. The U.S. government offers an online application that can be completed in as little as fifteen minutes. You can apply from the comfort of your home at any time convenient for you. There is no need to drive to the Social Security Office or speak to a Social Security representative to apply.
In most cases, once your application is submitted electronically, you’re done. Social Security will process your application and contact you by telephone or by mail if any further information is needed.
Who can apply for retirement benefits online?
You can apply online for retirement benefits or benefits as a spouse if you:
• are at least 61 years and 8 months old;
• are not currently receiving benefits on your own Social Security record;
• have not already applied for retirement benefits; and
• want your benefits to start no more than 4 months in the future. (We cannot process your application if you apply for benefits more than 4 months in advance.)
What about Medicare?
If you already have Medicare, you can still use this application to apply for retirement benefits.
If you don’t have Medicare but are within 3 months of age 65, you can use this application to apply for:
• both retirement and Medicare; or
• just Medicare, if you aren’t ready to receive retirement benefits yet.
If you have a Health Savings Account(HAS) and/or health insurance based on current employment, contact your personnel office or insurance company to find out how signing up for Medicare will affect you. For more information, go to Medicare.
What do I need to know before I apply?
Before you apply for retirement benefits, there are certain Social Security “basics” you should know about:
• Your “full retirement age” –
Depending on your date of birth, that may be between age 66 and 67. This could affect the amount of your benefits and when you want the benefits to start.
When you can start benefits –
You may start receiving benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70.
• Benefits are reduced for age –
Your monthly benefits will be reduced if you start them any time before “full retirement age.”
• Working while you receive benefits –
If you elect to receive benefits before you reach full retirement age, you should understand how continuing to work can affect your benefits.
• Delayed retirement credits –
Delayed retirement credits may be added to your benefits if they start after your full retirement age.
• Life expectancy –
Many of us will live much longer than the “average” retiree, and most women live longer than men. More than one in three 65 year olds today will live to age 90, and more than one in seven will live to age 95. Social Security benefits, which last as long as you live, provide valuable protection against outliving savings and other sources of retirement income. Again, you’ll want to choose a retirement age based on your circumstances so you’ll have enough income when you need it.
We urge you to use the Retirement Estimator to get a personal estimate of how much your benefits will be at different ages and “stop work” dates before you begin application.
Please read Other Things to Consider for information about other things you should think about when you make your decision about when to begin your benefits. Some of the things you should think about before you decide include:
• how long you think you will receive benefits,
• your health and
• whether anyone else in your family can get benefits on your record.
You can find out what documents and information you need to apply by reading our “Checklist for Online Medicare, Retirement, and Spouses Applications.”
How do I use the online application?
1. Select the “Apply for Retirement Benefits” button (above).
You’ll be asked to create or sign in to your my Social Security account and then go through a series of screens that will ask you questions about yourself, your family, and your work.
2. Fill out the online application.
You can complete your application in a single session or start the application now and finish it sometime later. If you:
o get stuck on a question, you can skip it and go back later. When you get to the end of the application, we’ll let you know if there are any questions you still need to answer.
o can’t complete your online application because you need to look something up, or for any other reason, you can “Return to a Saved Application” later without losing the information you entered.