Filing for Social Security benefits

by Admin | May 23, 2011

Retirement Social Security benefits are available to seniors who have worked for a designated period of time during their lives, and are now at an age which will allow them to receive these benefits.  The Social Security Act, which initially gave Social Security benefits to seniors was signed in 1935 by President Roosevelt, and in 1937 the Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) went on to require workers to pay withholdings from their paychecks to support the Social Security benefits.

1996 saw the first rumblings of the Social Security benefit program, as it was determined the system would begin running at a deficit by 2012, with the funds being entirely exhausted by 2029. In order to “save” the benefits program, payroll taxes would need to be increased to 18% or benefits would be cut by as much as 30%.

When to File for Social Security Benefits

You can start receiving Social Security benefits when you reach full retirement age, which depends on the year you were born. In short, the younger you are now, the older your retirement age will be. If you were born prior to 1937, then your full retirement age will be 65. However, if you were born between 1943 and 1954, your full retirement age will be 66, and if you were born in 1960 or later, your full retirement age will be 67, although there are currently talks in the works regarding raising these full retirement ages in order to maintain the Social Security benefits for a longer period of time.


There are also certain incremental increases in retirement age for those born between 1937 and 1943 or between 1954 and 1960, so check with your local Social Security office for the exact date of your full retirement. Some people opt to begin receiving Social Security benefits as early as age 62, while others choose to wait until they are at least 70. If you choose to begin drawing your Social Security benefits at age 62, then you will not get a much smaller check than you would if you wait until you have reached full retirement age.

In order to qualify for Social Security benefits you will have had to earn “credits” toward these benefits, which depend on when you were born. If you were born in 1929 or later, you will need 40 credits, or ten years of work in order to qualify for Social Security benefits.  Should you have stopped working prior to accruing your 40 credits, the ones you have accumulated stay on the books, and you can return to work later and complete your 40 credits. It’s a good idea to apply for your Social Security benefits at least three months before you are eligible to receive them as the process can take a certain amount of time.  If you file your claim after the time you became eligible, remember that you will not be able to get retroactive benefits for the time you were eligible but had not yet applied.

How to File for Social Security Benefits

You will be required to show proof of age, citizenship and identity in order to apply for your Social Security benefits. You can either visit your local office for an application, or call the toll-free (800) 772-1213 number to have an application sent to you.  You will be required to have either the originals or certified copies of your Social Security card, birth certificate, W-2 form and proof of citizenship. Should you apply through the mail, be sure and ask for the return of these important documents. If you plan on having your monthly Social Security benefits direct deposited into your account, you will need your bank account information as well. The best way to get the Social Security benefits you have worked for and complete your retirement planning is to make sure you have all the required paperwork in order when you apply.





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