Social Security recommends applying for retirement benefits three months before you want them to begin, because processing can take two months or longer. In most cases, you can apply as early as four months in advance. Retirement payments arrive one month after the qualifying month, so you'll receive the deposit for a June start date in July. Social Security approves your application 30 to 60 days before it makes the first payment.
You can apply for retirement benefits online, by telephone or in person at a local Social Security office. However, you'll receive faster service if you apply online at My Social Security or by telephone. To avoid delays, complete the application properly, sign up for direct deposit and supply all the required supporting documents, such as tax returns.
Getting Verification and Getting Paid
After your application is approved, Social Security mails a letter verifying your benefits. You can get faster verification online. Log on to My Social Security or open an account to check on your application status. After your benefits are approved, you can view and print your verification letter.
- Social Security: Your Unanswered Questions . . . Answered
- Social Security: The Fastest Way to Verify Social Security and Supplemental Security Income Benefits
- AARP Bulletin: How Far in Advance Should I Apply for Social Security Benefits?
- Social Security: Retirement Planner -- Are You Ready to Apply for Your Benefits?
- Social Security: What You Need to Know When You Get Retirement or Survivors Benefits
- Social Security: My Social Security -- Sign In or Create an Account
- Social Security: Direct Deposit
- Social Security: Information You Need to Apply for Retirement Benefits or Medicare
- Social Security: How to Apply Online for Social Security Retirement Benefits
- Social Security: When to Start Receiving Retirement Benefits
- USA Today: Get the Most Out of Your Social Security Office