I’ve decided I want to retire. Now what do I do?
The fastest and easiest way to apply for retirement benefits is to go to www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices. Use our online application to apply for Social Security retirement or spouses benefits. To do so, you must:
• Be at least 61 years and 9 months old;
• Want to start your benefits in the next four months; and
• Live in the United States or one of its commonwealths or territories.
Can I delay my retirement benefits and receive benefits as a spouse only? How does that work?
It depends on your date of birth. If you were born on or before Jan. 1, 1954, and your spouse is receiving Social Security benefits, you can apply for retirement benefits on your spouse’s record as long as you are at your full retirement age. You then will earn delayed retirement credits up to age 70, as long as you do not collect benefits on your own work record. Later, when you do begin receiving benefits on your own record, those payments could very well be higher than they would have been otherwise. If your spouse is also full retirement age and does not receive benefits, your spouse will have to apply for benefits and request the payments be suspended. Then you can receive benefits on your spouse’s Social Security record.
If you were born on or after Jan. 2, 1954, and you wish to receive benefits, you must file for all benefits for which you are eligible. The Social Security Administration will determine the benefits you are eligible for and pay you accordingly. For individuals born on or after Jan. 2, 1954, there is no longer an option to select which benefit you would like to receive, even beyond your full retirement age. Widows are an exception, as they can choose to take their deceased spouse’s benefit without filing for their own. For more information, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov.
I’m reaching my full retirement age and thinking about retiring early next year. When is the best time of year to apply for Social Security benefits?
You can apply as early as four months before when you want your monthly benefits to begin. To apply, just go to www.socialsecurity.gov/applytoretire. Applying online for retirement benefits from the convenience of your home or office is secure and can take as little as 15 minutes.
My wife and I live in Minnesota, but plan to spend the winter in New Mexico. My wife will turn 62 while we are down south. Can she apply for benefits in New Mexico, or do we have to wait until we get back home to apply for retirement at our local Social Security office?
These days, you don’t even have to be near a Social Security office to apply for benefits. Regardless of where you and your wife are living, you can apply for retirement benefits online at www.socialsecurity.gov/applytoretire. It’s so easy to do, and it can take as little as 15 minutes to complete and submit the application. If she prefers, your wife can file a retirement benefit application at any Social Security office — including the one closest to you in Minnesota, New Mexico, or wherever you happen to be.