How to Apply for Social Security

Once you hit a certain age, you start thinking about Social Security. It might bring up some questions that you don’t know how to answer. This is common. Most people don’t even consider Social Security until they start thinking about retirement.

But those questions come and they can be overwhelming:

What is involved in applying for Social Security? At what age can you draw Social Security? What is the process for letting the federal government know that you are ready to do so?

In this article, we’ll answer all of these questions, and arm you with the information necessary to make use of Social Security successfully in your life.

Let’s get started.

Drawing Social Security Benefits

The Social Security Administration is responsible for processing all applications for benefits. It is a good idea to begin your application process about four months before you actually want to begin receiving benefits. That way, when the need arises, you’ll already be set up.

Types of Benefits

  • Retirement Benefits
  • Survivor Benefits

Eligibility Requirements for Retirement Benefits

  • You must be 61 years and 9 months old.
  • You must not have applied for retirement benefits before this.
  • You must not be currently receiving Social Security benefits.
  • You must be at least 4 months out from the time you expect your benefits to start.

How to File an Application for Social Security Retirement Benefits

  • In person: You will need an appointment in order to apply in person for your Social Security benefits. You will need to find and contact your local SSA office to make an appointment. Call 800-772-1213 to find the local office.
  • By phone: There are very specific hours when you can apply by phone. These hours are Monday through Friday Eastern Time from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 800-772-1213 and TTY 800-325-0778. It is best to call at the least busy times – at the end of the day, at the end of the week, and at the end of the month.
  • Online: You can apply for Social Security benefits online anytime you choose – 24 hours a day/7 days a week. This is, in fact, the easiest way to do so, but be aware that you may not be able to apply for all your benefits online. You might, however, need to complete the application either in-person or on the phone. The online system will tell you how to proceed.

What You Need for Retirement Benefits

Here are the documents you will need when applying for Social Security Benefits:

  • Proof of citizenship in the United States or proof of lawful permanent resident status if born outside the U.S.
  • You need your original birth certificate, not a copy. If you do not have an original, you can include a copy that is certified by the hospital or agency that issued the original one.
  • A copy of your W-2 form for the current/previous year or if you were self-employed, a copy of last year’s tax return.
  • If you served in the military before 1968 – a copy of your DD-214 Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.

You will also need to provide your recent earnings, eligibility for a federal pension, marital history, and whether other family members can claim any benefits on your record.

Applying for Survivor Benefits

  • You must apply in person or by phone, not online.
  • You must provide the Social Security number of the deceased.
  • Your Social Security number and the Social Security number of any dependent children of the deceased.
  • Your birth certificate or religious record of birth.
  • Your marriage certificate or divorce decree.
  • Death certificate of deceased.
  • Record of earnings of the deceased in the form of W-2s or tax returns.
  • Apply the same month the retiree or covered worker dies.

FAQs about Social Security

There are many commonly asked or wondered about questions regarding applying for and receiving your Social Security Benefits. Some of these are included below, along with the answers.

Can I work and receive my retirement benefits?

The answer is yes but not a lot. There are limits on how much you can earn in any month and receive your full retirement benefits. If you are not at full retirement age of 65 and you earn more than allowed in a year, SSA will reduce your Social Security Benefit by the total amount of your earnings. Once you reach full retirement age, you may earn any amount and your benefits will not be reduced.

What happens to my Social Security benefits if I receive a pension from my job and that job was with the Federal Government and not covered by Social Security?

If this occurs your Social Security benefits are determined by a different formula and they are reduced based on your government pension. This is also true if you receive a pension for out of the country employment.

Do military benefits affect my Social Security benefits?

No. Your Social Security benefit is not reduced by your military benefits. You can receive full benefits from both.

If I take money out of my IRA will it affect my Social Security benefit?

No. The SSA does not include IRAs, pensions, interests, annuities, or dividends as part of your earnings.

How to Contact the Social Security Administration

As mentioned above you can contact the Social Security Administration by phone or online. It is best to have an appointment if going in person. It is not helpful just to walk into an SSA office. Use the following contact information to set up an appointment:

Phone: 800-772-1213

Applying for Social Security Is Meant to Be Easy

As you can see, it really isn’t very difficult to apply for Social Security benefits, whether retirement or survivor. The SSA does try to make it as easy as possible. Just be sure that no matter how you apply you have the proper information and documents with you. If you forget even one, you might stand in line for an hour only to be told you must come back later with the proper documents and information.

About The Author

Susan Dover

Susan is one of the leading Social Security experts in the country. She is driven by a passion for helping people access the benefits that they have earned.

121 thoughts on “How to Apply for Social Security

  1. Ii am on a pension I have my 6yr old Grandson living with me as his mother is no longer allowed to have him, social services are involved, she continues to claim for him which I have notified the fraud team, in the mean time what help can I have in taking care of him please.

    1. If he is entitled to social security payments you need to apply to be his representative payee. Go to a local social security office.

  2. What is needed to become the Payee for my sister? She is a Schizophrenia patient with dementia. She no longer has the ability to communicate verbally. I do have her POA for Financial and Health Care.

  3. I applyed for social security retirement in october and have not heard anything it is supposed to start in January please tell me what is wrong

    1. Did you apply in the format required ? Forms are used for various issues.
      I had , still have issue with their calculations on deductions, submitted a form for reconsideration, did not get a reply for over 1 1/2 years back in 2015.

  4. I would like to apply for Social Security. It is December 21, 2018 but do not what to draw until I am 63, which is in March of 2019. Can I apply now or do I need to wait?

    1. Make sure that you have the minimum 40 credits for eligibility AND, separate Medicare application from SS application.
      DO NOT delay Medicare sign up at age 65. Any delay is penalized for life – like an orig9nal sin.
      I inquired for Medicare at age 65, not yet qualified for SS, was told (wrongly ) that I was not qualified and got heavily penalized- for life.

      1. I am told I need a new Medicare card. Mine has SocialSecurity number omit.
        I am trying to find a phone number for Medicare in Napa, CA. Please help me.
        Ms. Morgan Thomas, 707.346.1413,
        [email protected]

  5. My wife passed 27 April 2016 she worked 30 years for the Maryland Government Education system. I wasn’t aware of her survivor benefits that I could apply for them until a friend informed that I might. Is to too late to apply for them.

    1. There is no time limit to file for a widow or widower benefit. These benefits will actually grow if you delay claiming them until you reach full retirement age. However, there is a time limit to collect the lump-sum death benefit. This is a one-time payment of $255.

  6. I need to apply for medicare health insurance. I am 78 years old and did nor sign up at 65 years; I pay for Blue Care through City of Punta Gorda (City self insured plan). I need to make appointment to meet with someone at the social security administration office located at 1600 Tamiami Trail in Port Charlotte Fl. I have been trying to talk to someone at 1 -800- 772-1213 and local 941-743-4065. Please help. I had to wait until January 1 to sign up with benefits 6 months from sign up.

    1. Do not delay; find out the address of the SS Admin head office ( I think in Baltimore),and write direct to the Commissioner (Andrew Saul) copy to your local office.
      I had BSBC private insurance; I am now 78, delayed 5 years signing up at 65 ( bad advice from my local office in Annapolis Md ) and now penalized with increased monthly payment FOR LIFE.
      You may get a bad penalty !! Good luck. If you can afford it consult a lawyer.

      1. I am 63 years old and work part time, I have not applied for SS. My question is, my 89 year old mother moved in with me for housing. My mother is still married, but her husband is mentally demented and cared for by his family. Is there SS benefits
        compensation for me for having an elderly parent living in my house?

    1. Donny,
      Your definitive answer lies in the age at which you start claiming benefits.
      For example, if you were born between 1943 and1954, your Full Retirement Age (FRA) is set at Age 66.
      You begin claiming retirement benefits prior to your FRA then in 2019 SSA will deduct 1.00 for every 2.00 you earn over 17,640.00.
      In the year you reach FRA (let’s say 2019) SSA will deduct 2.00 for every 3.00 you earn up to the month prior to the month you actually reach FRA.
      At FRA you are free to earn as much as you want without this earnings test reduction. Your PIA will be recalculated to adjust for losses. Don’t hold your breath because your break even point will take some time.

      1. Omitted: the earnings limit threshold in 2019 if this is the year you reach FRA is set at 46, 920.00. The lower and higher limits may change each year.

      2. Do the earnings for the year prior to receiving retirement benefits included in the limit ($17,640)? As an example, if I am under the FRA and start receiving benefits in July of this year and my earnings were $15,000 through June, does that mean I could only earn $2,640 for the remainder of the year before my retirement benefit amount is reduced? Thanks.

  7. How can I get my Social Security benefits reviewed. According to others that are receiving benefits I don’t seem to be getting enough.

    1. Betty,
      I find it somewhat troubling to hear you have been informed that you should be getting more. What are the basis for this assertion?
      Here are some things to consider before the long wait:
      (1). What type of benefit are you in receipt of?
      (2). How old were you when you filed for benefits ? You could very well be receiving reduced benefits based on early filing and/or early filing on behalf of another wage earners record.
      (3). Have you opened a account and reviewed your Earnings record if in receipt of benefits based on your own record? If you are drawing off of another’s record you will not be able to access that record.
      (4). You can get quite a bit of your questions answered by first reviewing your own account online. Hope this helps

    2. I will be turning 65 in April 2020 How can I apply for half the benefits of my spouse who is 73 and retired

    1. Hi Rosa,
      Hopefully you have received an answer to your query by now but if not…..63 in 2019 places your DOB in 1956 making your Full Retirement age (FRA) at 66 and 4 months. You absolutely can file at age 63 for retirement benefits under Social Security. On your 63rd Birthday you will be looking at 78.3% of your Primary Insurance Amount. Understand your leaving a whopping 21.7 % on the table. Plus when you turn 65, unless you decline SSAwill deduct monthly Mecicare Part B Premiums. IJS. Open a My account online and you can simply follow the easy step by step application process. Good Luck

      1. You should have emphasized not to delay Medicare application on reaching 65 ( separate from SS application; or there will be penalty charges FOR LIFE.

  8. I am retired fed government disabled for 15 years . I turn 65 in March 2019 . I make less than $2700.oo a month . I’ve paid AS. For 15 years . Can I appy for disability?

    1. Doris, you can check your earnings record on file with SSA yourself simply by going online and open a account. Not only a secure site but reliable. Good Lick

  9. I have applied for SS retirement benefits effective February. Bill from Medicare would normally come out of SSN benefits. How is the transition from something I write a check for to automatic accomplished? Do I still have to make the February payment to retain coverage?

  10. My husband passed away in December and had a telephone appointment and have not heard from them. What should I do?

    1. I am legally separated 2 yrs. 72 yrs old. If I divorce Ex, can I receive off his SS income, or can I collect off of first husband. They are both alive. Also would a SSBoost work for me?
      Thank you…Bonnie

  11. I am turning 65 in march 2019 iam still employed which forms do I need to file for part b medical please advice iam
    covered by my employer for full health benefit

    1. Pam, as long as you are covered by an active Employee Group Health Plan (EGHP) you can work until you are 100 years of age without enrolling in Medicare Part B.
      The key word here is “active” coverage by a current employer.
      Because Medicare Part A is “Premium Free” for most citizens, I personally recommend signing up for Part A “only” when eligible.
      Good luck Pam

      1. I would check and not delay on part B. The penalty for late enrollment is not funny.
        You are punished with deduction FOR LIFE, like an original sin.

        1. If I adopt my 2 grandchildren whose mother is already deceased and whose ss survivors befint they receive will they lose their ss payments?

  12. I retired from Social Security in 09/2013. I have 41 years of service and
    will turn age 65 in 04/2019. Can I file online ?

  13. I am 66 and want to apply to delay my social security benefits and receive only my divorced spouse’s benefit until a later date. Can I do this online?

    1. Yes you can. SSA Form 2-BK. Lucky you..from the sounds of it looks like you are grandfathered under the new law (BBA of 2015). Just be sure and I mean absolutely sure you make an unequivocal statement that you wish to narrow the scope of application to divorce spousal benefits. At 66, obviously your FRA you would be entitled to the max of 50% of your ex spouse’s PIA. Then switch at 70 to your own retirement adding an additional 32%.

      1. What is BBA of 2015? Is there any way to get estimates for planning purposes before actually retiring if you qualify for divorced spouse benefits? Born in 1955, FTR 66yrs/2mos can you file on spouse benefit and then move to your own benefit at age 70.

  14. my husband & I are still working and plan on to but want to apply for SS & Medicare Part B.
    If we go to our local SS office, would our passport suffice for the birth certificate? Thank You.

    1. SS and Medicare are two separate enrollment.
      Make sure you enroll for Medicare including part ‘b’, at age 65 or you’ll be penalized for life.

  15. I need to make appointment to fill out forms for my medicare. Also to find out how much I would receive if I retire on my 65th birthday?

    1. Hi Ken,
      First, if you are 65 in 2019 tells me you were born in 1954. Further, this means your Full Retirement Age is 66 and not 65 (born between 1943 and 1954) for Title I retirement benefits.
      Secondly, you are within or soon to be entering your Initial Enrollment Period for Medicare. 3 months before your 65th Birthday, the month of your 65th Birthday and 3 months after your 65th Birthday. That’s right, you have a 7 month Initial Enrollment Period (IEP).
      Providing you are not nor intend to be working for an employer who offers current active group health insurance then it is advisable to enroll during your IEP to avoid potential late enrollment penalties.
      If you are insistent on retiring at age 65 and filing for your social security retirement benefit at a little less than 100% of your Primary Insurance Amount then by all means do so. When you do this Social Security will automatically enroll you into Medicare and deduct your Part B monthly premiums of 135.50 (more if your 2017 income was in excess of 85K (filing single) or 170K (married filing jointly).
      If you wait until you reach FRA of 66 and are actively employed and covered by an employee’s group health plan, you can delay enrolling into Medicare without penalty and receive 100% of your socsec retirement. Under Medicare you will have an 8 month special enrollment period.
      Another option. You can enroll into Medicare without filing for your Socsec retirement until your FRA. You will be directly billed monthly by Medicare’s Payment Processing Center. And yes you can apply directly online.
      If you enroll within one of the 3 months before your 65th your coverage will begin on the first day of the month of your 65th Birthday.. but should you enroll in the month of your 65th or in any one of the latter 3 months your Medicare coverage will be delayed.
      If this is a bit too much, contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program also known as SHIP in many states. The service is free. These are the ground troops on the front line of Medicare.
      You may be leaving 5/12ths of 1% per month for every month you claim before FRA on the table.. Your FRA is 66 and not 65. 65 is the age you are eligible to enroll in Medicare unless sooner disabled. Good Luck

      1. Any delay will mean added penalty deduction FOR LIFE post 65.
        Medicare and SS are separate enrollment Medicare it seems is 65 though some SS are for age66 etc. I learnt the hard way, led down the wrong path by my local SS Office in Annapolis MD
        Good advice Mr Medicare Man (particularly the second paragraph). Kudos.

    1. Pat,
      If I am at least 62 and unremarried after being married at least 10 years and divorced at least 2years I am gathering original marriage certificate and or license and original Divorce Decree, and headed to Social Security. I have no idea as to your age but Ex Spousal Benefits are reduced if claimed before FRA. For example 50% max of the other ex’s retirement benefit PIA becomes around 35% at age 62.

      1. If I apply for my 50% of my divorced spouses benefit at 66 do I have to wait until I’m 70 to apply for mine? Or can I lets say use this for a year and then switch to my benefit?

        1. No idea why on earth you would want to switch to your own benefit at anytime before you turn 70. You are your Full Retirement Age thereby you are eligible for the full spousal montey (50%) of your ex’s PIA. You could earn another 32% if you wait it out.

        2. Kathleen,
          Hopefully you have received a correct answer to your question. But if not, I invite you to google The Bipartisan Act of 2015. This law eliminated 2 claiming strategies; basically, if 66 is your Full Retirement Age (FRA) and you did not reach this age (66) before 2 Jan 2016, you like I, are out of luck. The strategy you may not be aware of is called “Filing a Restricted Application” which allowed you to file for Spousal Benefits at your FRA and then switch to your own retirement benefit at age 70 providing the other spouse has filed and; whether immediately suspended or actually became a recipient. Although those folks who turned 66 before 2 Jan 2016 are grandfathered, there is only one more year (2020) for them to act. The other strategy was called “File and Suspend” where one spouse files for benefits and immediately suspends – opening the door for auxilary benefits i.e, spouse and eligible children. The File and Suspend strategy; specifically for others to take advantage of auxilary benefits went out the door 6 months after the new law was enacted. Folks can still suspend, but this action will not open the door for others to benefit. Under the new “deeming” rules, when you file for benefits now you are “deemed to be filing for all benefits you may be entitled. You would be paid the larger of the two amounts. Special Note: The new “Deeming Rules” do not, I repeat, do not apply to Survivior Benefits. One Example: If at FRA, your own retirement is less than half (50% of your spouse’s full Primary Insurance Amount (PIA), SSA would subtract your PIA from 50% of your spouse’s PIA and add to your own retirement benefit; and there you’d have it…a.k.a Excess Spousal Benefit (believe it or not) included with your retirement benefit. If on the other hand, your PIA is more than 50% of your spouse’s full PIA you zero (0.00) out, yet left with the retirement benefit you just so happen to have been deemed as filing for. Oh that is not all….at 65 and in 2020 up until the month before your FRA, you would be subject to the Earnings Test (higher limit) if still working notwithstanding rules that apply in your favor called a special grace year. Hope this helps.

        3. Kathleen, not sure if my reply otherwise posted but be sure to take note or correction of attaining the age 62 before 2 January 2016. I think I cited 66 as the age you’d have to be before 2 Jan 2016 to be grandfathered to file a restrcited application. My apologies.

  16. My wife is on Social Security Disability and would like to find out what she would receive on Social Security now. She is 66 yrs old. How do we find out how much she would receive.

    1. If your wife is presently in receipt of SSDI she will not get anymore at her Full Retirement Age. She will however transition to old age retirement from disability status. The move of her record serves as a moot point and administrative at at best. Should she outlive you, upon your death she would be entitled to a Survivor Benefit. The amount of that depends on quite a few things that would have you pulling your hair out at the methodology SSA uses to determine the benefit amount payable. You can always google this. Or do what I did and buy a Social Security for Dummies Book. It offers simplicity to understanding a very complexed set of rules regarding Survivor Benefits.

    2. Sarah,
      Other than annual COLAs when they are authorized, your wife’s record will be converted to regular retirement based on age. No increase, thus what she is getting now, notwithstanding future COLA adjustments is it.

  17. I was told by another SS agent that I can walk in w/o and appt to verify my monthly $ amount I would receive when I apply for my late husband’s SS in September 2019 . Is this true? Also he has been dead for 11 years. Do I really have to show a W2 form? I do not have any W2 for him.

      1. 1. Google print copy of the Sposal Benefit Booklet
        2. My
        3. Social Security for Dummies Book
        4. Make an appointment with Social Security
        5. Visit your local Social Security Office and ask questions
        6. Read some of the entries here.
        Way too many resources at your fingertips.

      2. 1. Google print copy of the Sposal Benefit Booklet
        2. My
        3. Social Security for Dummies Book
        4. Make an appointment with Social Security
        5. Visit your local Social Security Office and ask questions
        6. Read some of the entries here.
        Way too many resources at your fingertips.

  18. Where do I apply for retirement benefits? I started my account information, but there wasn’t anything to let me know if I have officially applied for the benefits.

    1. In all likelihood you have not applied for benefits by simply opening an a account online. Go Back. Look for “Apply for Benefits” for starters.

  19. I moved from Tennessee to Texas and need to change bank account where balance of SS monies is being deposited each month. How do I do this without having to go to a SS office?

    1. Mary,
      To set up or change direct deposit go to and simply open you online secure account.

  20. I am 62 years and three months old. If I apply for social security can I also apply for social security disability at the same time?

    1. Mary,
      The old and favorite government response is warranted here I,e.
      Sometimes, maybe, it all depends (sry)
      Currently, your Social Security disability benefits may be taxable if your total income exceeds $25000.00 as an individual, or $32000.00 for a couple. I recommend you refer to IRS Pub 915 and complete the worksheet for a definitive answer to your particular situation. A pretty simple form.

  21. I am 74 and my husband is 77 I have been told that I can draw half the amount my husband draws from his ss with out lowering his ss I only draw $500. a month mine has dropped $200. dollars sence I started drawing ss and it is all I have to live on

    1. Christine,
      I will do my best here to simplify an appropriate answer to your inquiry. Should my following spill meet with ambiguity I recommend you take some time one morning and go to the Social Security Office. So here it goes:
      (1). There was a time before passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 signed by President Obama on 2 Nov 2015., in which couples took advantage of a claiming strategy not designed for this purpose.
      (2). This law closed loopholes that couples took advantage of to maximize their benefits.
      (2). I’m almost 99.9% sure based on your inquiry you guys have missed both windows of opportunity.
      A. First both spouses must file in order for one spouse to claim spousal benefits. I am referring specifically to married couples and not divorcees.
      B. One strategy is referred to as File and Suspend. The older spouse at Full Retirement Age (66 for those born between 1943-1954) files and immediately suspends thus opening the door for Auxilary Benefits or in your case (maximum spousal benefits) at the other spouses Full Retirement age. Basically the younger spouse could file at 62 and collect reduced benefits or wait until she is 66, file a restricted application, and claim unreduced spousal benefits until age 70 and then switch to her own retirement benefits if it would yield more. The older spouse could allow his own benefit to grow from age 66 thru 70.
      B. The second strategy as mentioned above is called Filing a restricted application. She awaits until she is 66 before filing and narrows the scope of her application to Spousal Benefits while allowing her own to grow.
      C. The catch. The grand parenting clause under the BBA of 2015.
      1. The older spouse must have filed and suspended prior to 30 April 2016.
      2. For the other (younger) spouse to file a Restricted Application at Full Retirement Age, he or she must have been 62 on or before 2 Jan 2016. (read again)
      D. Thus if you and your spouse are not grandparented under the BBA of 2015 you are both considered “Deemed.” This means when you or your spouse files you are filing for all benefits you may be eligible for.
      E. So what’s next in line for either spouse at ages 74 and 77? In all likelihood, Survivor Benefits unfortunately. And without going into detail there exist several situations and calculations that will affect the amount of these benefits.
      I would definitely contact your local SHIP Office., State Health Insurance Assistance Office and inquire into the Medicare Savings Plan (MSP) which if you qualify in your state could put that monthly Part B Medicare premium that SSA has been deducting from your monthly benefit check, back in your wallet. Also if you qualify for MSP you can get alot of help with Prescription Drug cost through a program called EXTRA HELP (LIS) Part D.
      BOTTOM LINE: If 50% of your spouse’s retirement benefit at a minimum is twice the amount of 100% of your own retirement benefit could possibly yield what is referred to as Excess Spousal Benefit. If not, your offset would be set at 0.
      I hope this helps or at least motivates you to seek advice from the SSA.

  22. My father passed 1/14/2019, but my mom just received the death certificate. Since it isn’t the same month my father died, does that mean she will not be able to apply for Survivor benefits?

    1. Absolutely not. My best advice to you. Make an appointment with your local SSA Office. Go with Mom. Normally, funeral directors notify the SSA if one was used. Check with them first. Nothing happens overnight with SSA. Your mother, if eligible will know if SSA has been notified if she soon receives a check in the mail for 255.00. There are times that this application process can get lost in memory when working with a Funeral Director. But by all means, get over to the SSA Office.

  23. Mailed SSA retirement appeal, 2 months ago. It still not showing online, on my account. Submitted to the local office in Sanford, not showing either, very strange considering I have 90 days and a shady lawyer.

  24. I sent a letter tthe SSA Office in Fitchburg, MA wondering why I never got an increase in benefits for 2019. I received a letter from the SSA requesting my SS Number. I would assume the SSA Office would have my SS Number. I’m very suspicious of the frauds going around. I hope to hear your reply.

    1. Ray, yes you will or should make an appointment. Secondly, you will be applying for Survivors Benefits as a Widower. I caution, before you sign on the dotted line, talk to someone about maximizing your benefits even if you still are insistent on applying. The education is invaluable.

    2. Hi Ed,
      Go online to and open your secure account( Your answer lies within. Several reasons could be present in which results in no visible increase. You could have been subjected in previous years to the Hold Harmless provision which prevented any reduction to your SSA benefit because of an increase to Medicare premiums. That2.8 % raise could have been attributed to Part B Premium in 2029, still without reducing your benefit. Quite the confusing bearing reply but I encourage you to open your account and see if your Part B Premium has increased from past years.

  25. For saying it is easy to apply, I find that is a lie. I am currently still working and I am not planning on retiring for a couple more years. I turn 65 this month and I have been told that I still need to sign up for Medicare even though I won’t use it. This is not an easy task because your websites keep taking me to ads. All I want is an easy way to do what I have to do, Why is it so complicated? What happens if I don’t sign up by June or July?

    1. Hi Rich,
      Let me make it simple for you. And should you want to delve into the statutory playbook, reply to my email and I will send you the applicable rules.
      #1. So long as you have current “active” employer group health plan, you can continue to work until you are 100 if your heart so desires without having to sign of for Medicare. Further, no one can make you sign up for Medicare ever. The key word here is having Current “active” coverage.
      #2. If you work for an employer who has fewer than 20 employees or fewer than 100 employees (if disabled) then it woul make perfectly good sense to sign up for Medicare as Medicare then in this case would become Primary.
      #3. You can enroll in Part A of Medicare and it will not have much effect unless you are hospitalized in a Medicare approved facility and your current active coverage may not cover some expenses. I am assuming you have paid into Social Security system through payroll taxes and are fully insured (10 yrs or at least 40 quarters of work credits). Your Part A is then Premium Free.
      #3. Talk to someone who knows what they are talking about. There are SHIP offices in every state and this service is free. SHIP stands for State Health Insurance Assistance Program. Some states go by different names but nonetheless all offer free counseling. Google my friend

      1. My local SSA advised that to claim SS Retirement Benefits, enrollment in Medicare Part A was mandatory and opting out was not an option. Since it conflicts with contribution/participation in my company’s HSA, they suggested I either withdraw my application or accept I would lose the advantages of the HSA. However, the SSA agent at the general call center advised I could submit documentation to that SSA office/agent that enrollment in Part A conflicted with my HDHP HSA (seems she already knows that); and then they can process the application without Part A enrollment. I asked for a reference to policy or webpage and was told that our phone conversation was recorded and I could provide that to the local agent. The documentation of conflict is clear in IRS Publication 969 so I think I’m being led a merry chase. Do you know of a means to claim retirement benefits without enrolling in Part A? I haven’t been able to decline Part A although it sounds simple enough. In the online application, I checked the box that I did not want to apply for Medicare but apparently that does not include Part A.
        Thank you

    2. Any delay will mean added penalty deduction FOR LIFE post 65.
      Meidcare and SS are separate enrollment Medicare it seems is 65 though some SS are for age66 etc. I learnt the hard way, led down the wrong path by my local SS Office in Annapolis MD

  26. I have been receiving benefits based on my divorced spouse’s work history. I will be 70 in July & want to switch to benefits based on my own work history. I CAN’T DO THIS ON LINE via my account. I can’t get through to SSA local office by phone. Now what?

  27. Hello, I am thinking about moving back to my country of birth. Can I make arrangements to have my pension deposited into a bank account there?

  28. Hello. I am 65 years old and plan on working until I am 70 years old., after which time I will collect my social security benefit. My wife, however, just turned 64 and is retired and would like to collect SS benefits now. Can she file as an individual and receive those benefits without impacting my plan to wait until I am 70 to apply for mine? Also, can she get spousal benefits when I file, thereby increasing the amount she receives – in effect, more than doubling the amount she is now entitled to get at age 64?

  29. Can I make an Appointment with my local social security office to get advice on the best time to apply for my Social Security benefit, I just turn 65 and need advice on weather to apply now or wait until 70

  30. I canceled my retirement and received confirmation I had done so. I received a letter saying “We have not heard from you since we told you that we approve your request…etc.
    The letter is telling me I need to send a check or money order. Is this a fraud attempt? I need to be contacted immediately.

  31. trying to get direct deposit for ss checks went to bank and filled out papers sent into SS said rejected… Called said could not help???crazy

  32. I have applied for retirement about a month ago, I was called yesterday (3/27/19) I was left a message to call back, and I tried that number to no avail. I could not understand the message entirely, so I dont have the womans name either. I tried everything and allowed others to hear the message to no avail. I need this benefit, What is wrong.

  33. I would like to apply for retirement benefits & still work 4 hrs. a day. I am 64 yrs. old. I work at a major college as a custodian but the job is getting to be too hard to do full time which is why i want to do part time. Can i do that & still get benefits???

  34. I will be turning 62 this year. My husband is 63 & currently receiving SSDI. If he passes away before me, will I be eligible for his full benefit or will it be reduced due to me filing before my full retirement age?

  35. I want to apply for retirement benefits because i cannot job.due to excessive back.pain. I am 64 yrs. old & only can work 4 hrs per day. I work at a major college as a custodian. Am i allowed to work 4 hrs. per day as i know you are only allowed to work so many hrs. Is that possible????

  36. Can I apply for Social Security Retirement AFTER applying for SSDI, but not yet been approved for SSDI?
    I have been approved for LTD benefits by a private insurance carrier. The private carrier has required me to apply for SSDI. If the private insurance carrier terminates my monthly benefit prior to SSDI being approved, then I would have an urgent need to apply for Social Security Retirement. Would I first need to withdraw my application for SSDI in order apply for Social Security Retirement?

    1. MaryAnne,
      When SSDI beneficiaries reach their Full Retirement Age (FRA), age 66 for anyone born between 1943 and 1954, their disability benefits automatically convert to Retirement Insurance Benefits (RIB). A disabled beneficiary’s last month of entitlement to disability benefits is the month before their FRA. You will not need to apply or notify SSA. The SSA computer system will identify your your case and make the changes on the electronic record. Simply meant to say; the Office of Disability Operations will no longer administer post application actions. The PSC that is assigned your SSN now takes over. As a side note: A person can still file for for SSDI, but the period of disability must have begun at least five months before the the month FRA is attained. In a Nutshell, that’s it.

  37. I will be turning 65 in July. I am currently receiving survivors benefits. I would like to know if I can switch to start receiving my benefits. Medicare will automatically start the $135.00 deductible from what I am receiving now which will take away from my income. I’m receiving retirement from my previous job..

    1. Muriel,
      Actually Medicare’s Part B, premium for 2019 is 135.50. In 2020, the Part B Premium moves up to 144.60. This means even with the 2020 Social Security COLA increase (roughly 24.00). $9.10 of that goes to the Premium. I seriously would consider doing the math if you are remotely concerned with maximizing your benefits. At a minimum waiting until you reach your full retirement age (FRA). Keep in mind your own retirement will grow @ 8% per year from your FRA of 66 – 70. Again do the math. Age 65 is the year for Medicare and is not your full retirement age. If you were born before 1943 and 1954 (and you were), your FRA is 66. But to your original question, Yes you can switch. Call 1-800-772-1213 and make an appointment or you can apply online. If this is your absolute intent, then I recommend you apply at least 3 months before the month you wish to begin receiving benefits.

  38. I will be 65 in September and will still will be working full time can I collect Social Security benefits and not be on Medicare? My place of work has more than 20 employees and I would like to stay with their health plan. If I apply for part A, can I still use them as primary?

    1. Patty,
      You can apply for Premium-free Part A at any time upon or after reaching age 65 and meeting the statutory requirements of being fully insured per 42 U.S.C. Section 414. Your active employer (who employs 20 or more) will pay primary and Medicare Part A would become secondary for to pay a portion of your Medicare Approved and Covered Inpatient stays deemed “medically necessary” in a hospital and/or skilled nursing facility. The effective date for your Premium-free Part A will depend on when you enroll (normally backdated up to 6 months but not earlier then month of entitlement. Keep in mind though, If you or your spouse have other health insurance for example (TriCare, Union and/or State Retirement health plans) you may be required to enroll in both Parts A and B. This may be a bit redundant but you never want to cancel your active health plan for the sake of any part of Medicare unless yu have consulted wiht your HR or benifits administrator. Otherwise you and/or your husband can work until you are both 100 if you choose without enrolling in Part B. The key phrase is “having active employer group health coverage.” Whichever ends first, insurance and/or employment and you are no longer covered by the other spouse’s insurance, you both get an 8 month Special Enrollment Period (SEP) to enroll in Medicare Part A and/or B without penalty. If at such time and you are already enrolled in Part A, then you only need to enroll in Part B by using these two forms (1) CMS 40B; Application for Part B and (2) CMS L564 Employment Verification of Health Coverage. You will not need the CMS 40B if you do not have Part A already. Hope this helps.

      1. Dear Medicare Man-
        Does this apply the same if:
        I am on my husband’s BC/BS Health plan coverage from his place of work? I have been on his plan for at least 25 years!

  39. I am 69, retired but not collecting any Social Security benefits.
    Can I receive my benefits for 3 or 4 months before the date I apply? (like “back pay”)?
    My husband will be 70 in 2020. He may work after he turns 70. Does he have to start collecting benefits at age 70?
    Can I receive my benefits now and switch to receiving his benefits (I would get 50% of the amount he receives, correct?) when he turns 70 (or when he retires if it is after he turns 70)?

    1. Hi Mary,
      5 months have passed since your inquiry and; for the question pertaining to you…well you have probably executed your decision by now. I will not belabor a moot point or otherwise rub in the fact that it appears both you and your husband misssed a grand opportunity of two claiming strategies that could have maximized your benefits. The law closing these loops came into effect on 2 Nov 2015 (BBA of 2015). One was called the File and Suspend and the other (in which you are now grandfathered) is call Filing a restricted application. Basically at 66 or older, and no later than 30 May of 2016, your husband coud have filed and immediately suspended his benefits opening the door for you at age 66 to file for Spousal benefits (50% of his PIA) while allowing your own benefits to grow at 8% per year. Your husband then at age 70 could claim his benefits to include the 32% DRC increase. As of the date of your inquiry, I do not now how far into the year at 69 you are, and surely cannot make the decision for you to claim spousal benefits so close to you hitting 70. What I can pass on to you and your husband is; beware of the automatic statutory 6-month retroactive benefit payable when you file after your Full Retirement Age (FRA). You will be paid or offered up to a 6-month lump sum RIB payment initially unless you say, “NO” written unequivocally. Depending on the SSA tech’s competency, you may or may not be informed of this little known event. If you and/or your spouse opt for this, be advised you are both giving up 4% of your benefit for the rest of your life. The breakeven point is not so convincing (smile). So instead of enjoying 132% you guys are settling for 128% permanently. As for your husband planning on working beyond 70 there are no further delayed retirement credit increases. Annual Social Security COLA increases will apply. It doesn’t amount to much if your Medicare Part B Premiums also receive a hike. My only concern at this point would be federal taxation and how much of it can be taxed. This would be my personal measure. Read up on “Provisional Income” and how it may or may not affect federal taxation of your benefits whlie still working. I hope this helps.

  40. I am 80 years old and have been receiving Social Security since age 65. I recently married a man 59 years old. How does this affect my benefits. He plans to have his own health insurance; and should we file income taxes separately. Thank you for your assistance.
    I do not plan to change my name ….

    1. Hi Mary,
      Your query has given me a chance to get back to helping. Thank you. Your benefits have received the ultimate green light…No effect on your benefits because you married. You are not changing your name thereby, I highly recommend the young lucky husband to protect that marriage certificate with his life. Your question about filing taxes is out of my league of expertise. As easy as you acessed this account, there are forums just as good on tax advice. Would also like to take this opportunity to thank Peter Kou and Susan Dover for the great work they do freely helping others. KUDOS

    1. Hi Mike,
      You most certainly can make an appointment with your local Social Security Office. May be a bit easier to google the SSA field offfice closest to your home and/or that serves your area. That is not to say you an not access any field office for assistance. 1 800 772 1213.
      Also, you may want to entertain the idea of opening a secured account online. Plenty of good, solid information on you and your benefits. Having access to this knowledge about your own financial security before going in lowers the stress and fears of having no clue what the customer service rep is talkin about. Do yourself a favor and arm yourself with some info before your appointment.

    2. Mike,
      If you have about two pots of coffee and a few hours of “hold time” then by golly, yes you can; call 1-800-772-1213. If your inquiry specifically pertains to applying for Social Security Retirement Benefits, you can do so online. Don’t be scared of the unknown…it is a very simple 15 minute or less process. You must open up a account. Again a simple process.

  41. I have been receiving benefits based on my spouse’s work history. I will be 70 in August & want to switch to benefits based on my own work history. I CAN’T DO THIS ON LINE via my account. I can’t get through to SSA local office by phone. Now what?

    1. Quangfang XU,
      I am not being rude here and I have no idea whether you are living in the US or not. If I am you I am physically going to the nearest US Social Security Office even if I had to pay to get there. Write Social Security a certified-receipt letter. Yes, it may take time. The plane, bus or train fare plus hours of waitng in line or even in the SSA ofice is worth the larger benefit for the rest of your life. This is a no-brainer. Good Luck

  42. I will be 62 on 2023. I’m in the Philippines .I’m trying to understand how to apply my retirement. I’m getting only I think not even 500a month because of job history. If I have to Apply in person I plan to go to Chicago ok. I want direct deposit in my Chase bank checking account.

    1. Gerardo,
      You can apply online. Understand you will be required to open a secured acount. It really is a simple process.

  43. Quanfang XU,
    It is not my intent to render you a coyish or annoying reply but my god, you are talking about lifetime benefits here. If you are having all of these problems try an airplane, a car, a boat, a train and or multiple bus transfers and walk into to the closest Social Security Field Office. If you are physically incapable and located in the United States, try calling your closest State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). If you are overseas, then you should visit the US Embassy in your country. Get busy and Good luck.

    1. My husband is 54 year’s old but he has enough credit would he be able to retire & still work? Also where he works at they have ESOP & retirement will he lose that. He’s been working since he was 18 year’s old & is getting tired & wants to retire already but Don’t know how to do it. Please help

      1. Hi Esmeralda,
        First, I would like to emphasize; my reply specifically refers to Old Age Benefits a.k.a. Social Security Retirement Benefits (not survivors or disability). There are 2 statutory preconditions your spouse must meet before he can draw OAB. (1) He must attain the age of 62 (42 U.S.C. Section 402)), (2) He must be fully insured per definition contained in 42 U.S.C. Section 414 (40 Credits or 10 years). When and if he files at that time the decision will trigger Medicare Part A eligibility under 42 U.S.C. Section 426 however with a derferred entitlement until age 65 or unless sooner disabled. Again I want to be sure you understand by discussion is about benefits stemming from his work history and to be paid to him. It takes less than a minute to google the statutes. Hope this helps.

  44. I will turn 64 , this month and will be applying for SS, I don’t need Medicare because I have Tri-Care Prime. I plan on retiring Dec. 26 2019 .

    1. Gwen,
      Thank you for your service. Unless sooner disabled you are eligible for Medicare at age 65. With this in mind, you will transition to TriCare for Life at age 65. COBRA, Tricare, VA and/or IHS is not considered active employer health coverage thus, penalties may come into play should you not have active employer health coverage and you elect not to enroll in Medicare during your 7-month initial enrollment period (IEP). TriCare for Life requires this if you are entitled to Premium-free Part A, regardless of any other health insurance. Notwithstanding Medicare’s 8-month special enrollment period (SEP) following termination of active employer insurance or covered employment (whichever occurs first), not only will TriCare-4-Life effect the transition, you will face a 10% Part B penalty for every full 12 months you go without coverage. To add, by missing your IEP, and no SEP applicable, you will only be allowed to enroll during the general enrollment period (GEP) which runs from 1 Jan through 31 Mar annually. Coverage then becomes effective 1 July. The penalty clock for late enrollment penalty – in this scenario began ticking when you first lost active employer insurance and will end on 31 Mar of the year you use the GEP. Here is an excerpt from TriCare…….
      REMAINING TRICARE-ELIGIBLE (google the title for the full scoop) “If you’re entitled to premium-free Medicare Part A, you must also have Medicare Part B to keep TRICARE, regardless of your age or place of residence. Once you have both Medicare Part A and Part B, you automatically receive TRICARE benefits under TRICARE For Life (TFL).”

    1. Hopefully, by now, you have received an answer your question as re-cited below:
      I am legally separated 2 yrs. 72 yrs old. If I divorce Ex, can I receive off his SS income, or can I collect off of first husband. They are both alive. Also would a SSBoost work for me?
      First, I am calling SSA at 1-800-772-1213 and make an appointment – if for nothing else, to ensure you get it right. Secondly, there is such an abundance of simple-to-understand information on this subject at on SSA website. I will however submit a few basic rules for Ex-Spouse benefits:
      (1) If you remarry, you generally cannot collect benefits on your former spouse’s record unless your later marriage ends (whether by death, divorce, or annulment).
      (2) You are unmarried AND you were married to the Ex for at least 10 years.
      (3) Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits; and
      The benefit you are entitled to receive based on your own work is less than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work.
      (4) If your ex-spouse has not applied for retirement benefits, but can qualify for them, you can receive benefits on their record if you have been divorced for at least two continuous years.
      I have no knowledge of your reference to an “SSBoost.” You can go to for more insight from SSA.

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  46. If I am not at FRA but want to collect SS, is the maximum I am allowed to make per year based on your gross income or taxable income? Example would be that I work for a company and pay my health insurance out of my wages and participate in the company 401K plan. That is all pretax deductions and reduces my gross income. If I am paying $12,000 per year in insurance premiums and put another $7,000 in the company 401K, do I still get to make the $18,000 before it affects my SS payments.

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