When should I submit my application for SSA retirement?
I will turn 67 on December 20, so I will be at the full retirement age that day. I see lots of advice to submit three months early, but I am afraid they will consider my request to be at age 66 rather than 67. Can you please clarify? Should I submit my application for Social Security retirement three months before my birthday or three months before I want the first check?
According to the Social Security website, it advises people to apply three months ahead. However, you must be the one to specify which month you want to receive the first check. This is done when you fill out your initial application for Social Security, whether you do this online or in person. If you are uncertain as to the month that you will attain a certain age, make sure to ask.
If you are 67 on December 20th, then your Full Retirement Age or "FRA" is age 66. Because you waited one year, your benefit is now 8% more than if you started at age 66. Anyone born in the year of 1954 or earlier, your FRA is 66. For each year after, it is an additional 2 months, until 1960, which then the FRA is 67 if you were born on or after the year of 1960.
The reason why everyone says to submit 3 months early is because it will take that long to get your first check. They won't be able to consider your age as 66 because they can only go back 6 months.
I have seen where people want their benefits on the day they turn 66 or 67, or whatever the age might be, and the SSA thinks they are helping by looking back 6 months and giving you 6 months worth of checks, as if you elected your benefits 6 months ago. This ends up giving you a smaller paycheck in the long run, but sometimes it does help people out.
If you are very specific and you want your benefits to start at age 67, my advice is to actually go in to the SSA office near you. Make sure to set up an appointment. It is very easy to make a mistake when you do not know what you are doing. Another option is calling SSA.
Keep this in mind, if you want your benefit to start at age 67, there is no harm in going in after you turn 67. They can backdate up to 6 months. The downfall is you wont receive your first check until a few months later. However, you will get 3 months worth of payments plus anything they backdated you to in the first check and then it will come in each month after that. For example, you went in to SSA on January 20th and had them backdate to your 67th birthdate. Then the first check you will get will come in April, and you will receive 4 months of payments in the first check, and then a single payment going forward.
If you are living day to day from employment and need the paycheck from Social Security to be able to survive, then don't wait and go in now.
Hope that helps!
Vincent Oldre, CFP®
You can file for benefits up to four months before you are eligible to collect them. You can file before, or even after, you want benefits to begin. You need to be clear on your application as to when you want benefits to start. You can file online (www.ssa.gov), or in person at the local Social Security office. By the way, if you plan on filing in person, make sure you have an appointment. When you get to the Social Security office, they will honor your appointment time, even if there are hundreds of people sitting in the office. Good luck!
Your full retirement age was 66, not 67. You will receive an eight percent increase by waiting one year. So if you are planning to start your benefits, you can specify when you want to start. So sign up via the social security website. Congratulations on waiting one year and increasing your benefits. Good luck and enjoy the next stage of your life.