The light is at the end of the tunnel! As you near the end of your professional career, you really have to hone in on your post-retirement plans and carefully assess your financial situation. When to apply for Social Security benefits will be different for everyone, but you will have to wait for a certain age. Read on as we dive into Social Security eligibility, the application process, and more.
When am I eligible to receive Social Security benefits?
The vast majority of people are eligible as early as 62 or if they are disabled, blind, or have enough work credits. Spouses may also receive Social Security benefits on their partners’ earning records if they are at least 62 years old, divorced from you but married for at least ten years before the divorce, and/or caring for a disabled or minor child.
Should I collect Social Security at 62?
In short, probably not, and we’ll explain why you may want to wait. However, please keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to Social Security. It is always best to consult with a Social Security representative or advisor to better understand the process or find out details that pertain to you.
When you should actually apply for benefits
Although 62 is the earliest you can activate your benefits, it often isn’t the right time to do so. The Social Security Administration (SSA) reduces benefits by a certain percentage until you turn 70, at which time you become eligible for the full amount.
The SSA calculates the percent reduction by the year you were born. If your date of birth is between 1943-1954, your retirement benefit is reduced by 25%; if your date of birth is 1955, your retirement benefit is reduced by 25.83%; and so on. You can review the federal benefits chart here to determine when you’re eligible for your full benefits.
Of course, the goal is to collect as much of your earnings as possible, so if you are physically and mentally capable of working, and it makes sense with your life plan, you may want to consider doing so. If your priorities are to retire as soon as possible, it may make sense to start withdrawing early but wait until the reduced benefit gap closes a bit.
Life may not permit you to work until you are 70, and if so, you’ll want to consider what your best option is. We recommend speaking with a financial advisor or Social Security representative to get a clearer look at the whole picture before deciding what’s best for you and your family members.
What is the application process?
You can apply online for the following:
- Social security benefits
- Spouse’s benefits
- Disability benefits
- Medicare benefits
- Supplemental security income (SSI) benefits
- Survivors benefits
The SSA website makes it easy to submit a benefits application, check your application status, revisit a saved application, and more. You can even submit an online application if you live outside of the United States!
If you feel more comfortable handling this process in person, you can visit your local Social Security office by appointment or by calling the SSA phone number online.
Royal Oak Financial Advisors is happy to review your Social Security benefits with you and make a game plan for retirement. To end on a good note and be ready for that next stage of life, you’ll want to prepare as early as possible. It’s never too early to start discussing Social Security planning, nor too late. Book some time with us to discuss your Social Security situation today!