Millions of seniors rely on social security to pay their bills in retirement and, thankfully, it is quite easy to take out benefits. But if you are wondering if this process will run automatically, the answer is "no".
The reason? There is no age to apply for social security. Eligible recipients are entitled to eight years to claim benefits that start at age 62 and end at age 70. (In fact, you do not even have to apply before age 70, although there is no financial reason to wait afterwards.) There are different repercussions and benefits of filing at different ages. Therefore, the decision to claim benefits is not the one that the Social Security Administration (SSA) can take for you. You will have to weigh the pros and cons of the rankings at different ages to land on the good.
Take the best ranking decision
Your Social Security benefits are calculated on the basis of your 35-year highest earnings, but the age at which you report them may result in an increase or decrease in this number. If you produce at retirement age (FRA), which is 67 for anyone born in 1960 or later, you will receive the exact monthly benefit to which your earnings statement entitles you. File before FRA, and your benefits will be reduced for each month you claim them earlier. And if you delay the payment of benefits beyond the FRA, you will increase them by 8% per year until the age of 70 – that's why waiting beyond 70 years does not pay: you will increase your benefits.
Since your classification decision has financial ramifications, you must carefully consider your choices. It is important to keep in mind that you rely on social security to cover your retirement expenses. If you have saved well, you can claim benefits early to be able to use them to travel or enjoy life at a relatively young age. But if your savings are low, you will probably want to increase these benefits or at least avoid a reduction.
Your health should also play an important role in your ranking decision. Although social security is technically designed to pay you the same total amount for life, no matter when you file your case (the logic is to claim it early, you will reduce your payments, but you will get more, while late filing would increase your payments, but you will have less), this is only the case if you live an average life. If your health is bad and you expect to die on the younger side, you usually have an interest in claiming benefits as soon as you can. And if you want to live longer than most people, you have to do it as late as possible.
Claim your benefits
No matter when you decide to apply for Social Security, do not expect these benefits to become available overnight. It may take several months to process your request. If, for example, you want to start receiving benefits at age 67, it would be a good idea to apply at 66 and 9 months.
The simplest way to apply for social security is online via the SSA website. You can also apply by phone or in person at your local Social Security office, but you may need an appointment if you choose the latter route. Be that as it may, think carefully about your decision and thank your lucky stars for being able to start receiving benefits at an optimal time for you.