Pamela Kweller RSSA Staff
Applying for Social Security benefits will likely have a huge impact on your retirement and your future income. Make sure you are prepared by taking these 5 steps ahead of time.
1. Create a My Social Security account
The Social Security Administration has a free online tool called My Social Security. It is recommended that you create your account now, if you are 18 years or older. Even if you don’t plan on retiring or collecting Social Security for a long time, it is still a good idea to set up your account now.
Once you have created your account, you will have access to important information including, but not limited to your earnings history and an estimate of your future benefits.
Learn more about creating an account here.
2. Check your earnings history
Now that you have set up your My Social Security account, you have the ability to check your earnings history. Your earnings record has a direct impact on the amount of benefits you are entitled to. Check to ensure that the information is accurate.
If your earnings record is inaccurate or missing information, it could potentially lower future benefits for you and/or your family. Fortunately, you can correct your record by providing proof of missing earnings. Gather the information and documents needed to prove your earnings and then contact the SSA. Find more information and specific instructions on correcting your earnings history here.
3. Speak with a professional
Before filing for Social Security, you must know when to file for Social Security. Just because you are eligible to file at age 62 does not mean you necessarily should. It is recommended that you work with a professional who can guide you through the process of determining the best filing age for your particular situation.
A Registered Social Security Analyst (RSSA) is a trained Social Security expert. They have studied the complexities of Social Security and have passed the national exam needed to earn the RSSA designation.
An RSSA will take a deep dive approach and use a leading edge software to analyze all of your Social Security filing strategies. With the help of an RSSA, you will discover which strategy maximizes your benefits in comparison to other strategies that may be more appropriate given your life circumstances. Working with a professional gives you the peace of mind knowing that you are filing at the right time for you.
Schedule a free consultation with an RSSA here.
4. Get organized
Before applying for Social Security, give yourself time to prepare in advance. You will need to have information and documents readily available to complete the application process. Take the time to find the information and organize the documents needed prior to applying.
Information you will need includes your Social Security Number, your bank information, and your earnings record. Documents you will need include your original birth certificate, proof of citizenship, and a copy of your W-2 forms. You can find a complete list of the information and documents needed to apply for Social Security benefits here.
5. Apply early
It is recommended that you apply 3 months prior to when you want to receive your benefits. This gives you plenty of time to get approved and if you get denied, you have ample time to address the issues in order to get approved.
Once you are ready to file for Social Security benefits, you can apply online, on the phone, or in person. Learn more about the application process here. Once you have applied, you can check the status of your application online with your My Social Security account.