Question on applying for SS benefits

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
invst65
Posts: 585
Joined: Thu Nov 27, 2014 11:04 am

Question on applying for SS benefits

Post by invst65 » Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:28 pm

I read the following on the AARP website...

Regardless of how old you are, the agency generally recommends that you apply three months before you would like the first payment to arrive. You'll be asked to provide a series of original documents such as birth records, marriage certificates, military records and tax returns. Make sure you get them all together properly. Problems with documents can slow the approval process.

I have an online account and plan to apply online so is this really true? Are they really going to ask me to submit any of those documents? Seems strange since they already have my tax records and knew I was in the military.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 16724
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Question on applying for SS benefits

Post by dm200 » Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:31 pm

invst65 wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:28 pm
I read the following on the AARP website...
Regardless of how old you are, the agency generally recommends that you apply three months before you would like the first payment to arrive. You'll be asked to provide a series of original documents such as birth records, marriage certificates, military records and tax returns. Make sure you get them all together properly. Problems with documents can slow the approval process.
I have an online account and plan to apply online so is this really true? Are they really going to ask me to submit any of those documents? Seems strange since they already have my tax records and knew I was in the military.
It has been a few years - but I did everything (as did my wife) online - and it went very smoothly. I don't recall having to submit anything.

User avatar
Pajamas
Posts: 5740
Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:32 pm

Re: Question on applying for SS benefits

Post by Pajamas » Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:32 pm

Is there any reason not to apply earlier rather than later during the four-month application window before your benefits start?

https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/

Austintatious
Posts: 667
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:01 pm

Re: Question on applying for SS benefits

Post by Austintatious » Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:37 pm

I applied in person and, yes, they did ask for birth certificate and copy of my DD214 which I faxed to the local office. I'd expect, for example, that one would be asked to provide a marriage license/certificate when applying for a spousal benefit. I can't say what you can expect when applying online but I wouldn't be surprised if you were asked to forward copies of some of the items mentioned. Good luck!

invst65
Posts: 585
Joined: Thu Nov 27, 2014 11:04 am

Re: Question on applying for SS benefits

Post by invst65 » Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:40 pm

Pajamas wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:32 pm
Is there any reason not to apply earlier rather than later during the four-month application window before your benefits start?

https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/
Thanks for pointing me to the horse's mouth instead of AARP.

No reason at all not to apply 4 months early. I will remark my calendar.

And it says usually no documentation is required.

So thanks for the answer.

User avatar
GerryL
Posts: 1713
Joined: Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:40 pm

Re: Question on applying for SS benefits

Post by GerryL » Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:09 pm

I will turn 70 in September. I had been planning to apply for SS when I returned from a Viking River cruise (an early birthday gift from my brother!) in May so I would see my first SS payment in October. When I got home and checked my mail, I found a letter from the SS Admin reminding me that it was time to apply since there was no advantage to waiting past age 70. Applied online with issues; no request (yet) to submit any documents. Now just waiting while my application is "in process."


1) The SS folks are eager to have you apply online.
2) The online application gives you the opportunity to call out any issues (e.g., emphasizing you want to collect maximum delayed retirement credits).

neilpilot
Posts: 1701
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2015 1:46 pm
Location: Memphis area

Re: Question on applying for SS benefits

Post by neilpilot » Sun Jun 10, 2018 9:57 pm

GerryL wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:09 pm
I will turn 70 in September. I had been planning to apply for SS when I returned from a Viking River cruise (an early birthday gift from my brother!) in May so I would see my first SS payment in October. When I got home and checked my mail, I found a letter from the SS Admin reminding me that it was time to apply since there was no advantage to waiting past age 70. Applied online with issues; no request (yet) to submit any documents. Now just waiting while my application is "in process."


1) The SS folks are eager to have you apply online.
2) The online application gives you the opportunity to call out any issues (e.g., emphasizing you want to collect maximum delayed retirement credits).
I assume you waited until you were 70 to maximize your monthly benefit. Hope you specified that you did not want retroactive benefits since SSA will often issue 6mo retro benefits which will reduce the monthly benefits to age 69.5. Is that what you meant by “with issues “?

User avatar
GerryL
Posts: 1713
Joined: Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:40 pm

Re: Question on applying for SS benefits

Post by GerryL » Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:46 am

neilpilot wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 9:57 pm

I assume you waited until you were 70 to maximize your monthly benefit. Hope you specified that you did not want retroactive benefits since SSA will often issue 6mo retro benefits which will reduce the monthly benefits to age 69.5. Is that what you meant by “with issues “?
Yup. As a "for example."

fourwheelcycle
Posts: 412
Joined: Sun May 25, 2014 5:55 pm

Re: Question on applying for SS benefits

Post by fourwheelcycle » Mon Jun 11, 2018 8:19 am

I did an SS "file and suspend" online at 66 so my wife could then file (online) for one-half of my FRA benefit. After I did my file and suspend I saw a BH thread about SS possibly un-suspending people and starting their full benefits six months before they turned 70, thereby reducing the full benefit they expected to receive at 70. I called my state SS office (easier to reach than the national office) and they assured me they would not start my full benefit six months early.

They also assured me I did not need to call them to request that my benefit should be re-started at age 70. They said they would automatically start it when I hit 70 and I would see my first check the following month. However, they did tell me I should go online to add my bank info if I wanted the check to be deposited rather than mailed to me. I did that, and I also called my state office one month before I turned 70 to make sure everything was all set. They said yes, they could see I added my bank info and my first check should arrive the month after I turned 70 - now I am just waiting to see if my benefits start and are deposited to my bank account.

invst65
Posts: 585
Joined: Thu Nov 27, 2014 11:04 am

Re: Question on applying for SS benefits

Post by invst65 » Mon Jun 11, 2018 11:41 am

GerryL wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:46 am
neilpilot wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 9:57 pm

I assume you waited until you were 70 to maximize your monthly benefit. Hope you specified that you did not want retroactive benefits since SSA will often issue 6mo retro benefits which will reduce the monthly benefits to age 69.5. Is that what you meant by “with issues “?
Yup. As a "for example."
Can someone elaborate a bit more on the "issue" of the retroactive benefits. Is this something relevant only to those who have filed and suspended, or something everyone needs to worry about?

JW-Retired
Posts: 6783
Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2007 12:25 pm

Re: Question on applying for SS benefits

Post by JW-Retired » Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:10 pm

Pajamas wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:32 pm
Is there any reason not to apply earlier rather than later during the four-month application window before your benefits start?

https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/
I would do whatever you can to check what they are planning to do before you get the first check. My own experience is SSA skimmed over my plain-as-day on-line application asking to collect spousal benefits only, and went right to starting my own benefits at age 66. I think I was lucky to find out a few weeks later and head it off.
JW
Retired at Last

RetiredAL
Posts: 113
Joined: Tue Jun 06, 2017 12:09 am
Location: SF Bay Area

Re: Question on applying for SS benefits

Post by RetiredAL » Mon Jun 11, 2018 2:48 pm

Both I and DW filed for SS online, she filing one year after me. When she applied, they did call and talk to both of us, but nothing had to be sent in. I assume they already had enough in their records to confirm our marriage. DW got spousal benefits since that was higher than her benefit.

We had many more hassles with Medicare, both filing at the same time with me at 66 and her at 65. An additional form had to be emailed in, relating to the delayed application due to still working and having been covered by work. The hassles we experienced were related to the online Medicare form being poorly designed. It asks "are you currently insured", which I was at application time because I was retiring 60 days out, and it does not ask "will you be insured" when your medicare starts. In the comments, I stated all insurance would stop on my retirement date, with was 1 day before the medicare requested date. Never the less, they marked both of us as Medicare being secondary, when in fact it was primary. It took me 3 contacts with Medicare to straighten this out, one for my DW.

If you do go to their office, I do suggest you take your Birth Certificate and any Marriage Documents with you. I had friends find they needed that when they visited an office, yet my experience was not needed when filing online.

Dontwasteit
Posts: 44
Joined: Wed Apr 12, 2017 6:52 pm

Re: Question on applying for SS benefits

Post by Dontwasteit » Mon Jun 11, 2018 4:09 pm

Today I waited 1.5 hours in a Brooklyn Social Security office, finally get to the window and the clerk tells me that applying must be done in the early mornings. That " Tomorrow I should wait outside the SS office 2 hours before they open to make sure they take me (SS closed the main office in Bensonhurst so the other one is mobbed). I figured I would apply on line. Got to the last step and it says to mail in all original documents. I am NOT going to mail them my original birth cert , marriage cert etc. Gonna have to swallow my pride, man up and go early tomorrow morning. Drats!

JW-Retired
Posts: 6783
Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2007 12:25 pm

Re: Question on applying for SS benefits

Post by JW-Retired » Mon Jun 11, 2018 4:34 pm

Dontwasteit wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 4:09 pm
Today I waited 1.5 hours in a Brooklyn Social Security office, finally get to the window and the clerk tells me that applying must be done in the early mornings. That " Tomorrow I should wait outside the SS office 2 hours before they open to make sure they take me (SS closed the main office in Bensonhurst so the other one is mobbed). I figured I would apply on line. Got to the last step and it says to mail in all original documents. I am NOT going to mail them my original birth cert , marriage cert etc. Gonna have to swallow my pride, man up and go early tomorrow morning. Drats!
Unless they have quit doing it, there is a phone appointment option that wife and I used and liked very much. An SS agent calls you at your home or office at the time you set up. You arrange a phone appointment by calling your local SS office and asking for one. They will give you a date and time when the agent will phone you back. You probably should expect the appointment will be a month or two or more out there.

Wife and I have used this and the SS person called us exactly at the appointed time. Much much better than being in a noisy office.
JW
Retired at Last

User avatar
GerryL
Posts: 1713
Joined: Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:40 pm

Re: Question on applying for SS benefits

Post by GerryL » Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:38 pm

invst65 wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 11:41 am
GerryL wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:46 am
neilpilot wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 9:57 pm

I assume you waited until you were 70 to maximize your monthly benefit. Hope you specified that you did not want retroactive benefits since SSA will often issue 6mo retro benefits which will reduce the monthly benefits to age 69.5. Is that what you meant by “with issues “?
Yup. As a "for example."
Can someone elaborate a bit more on the "issue" of the retroactive benefits. Is this something relevant only to those who have filed and suspended, or something everyone needs to worry about?
This has nothing to do with file and suspend. I saw warnings that sometimes the SS Admin office "helps" people who have delayed past FRA and given them as much as 6 months back payment (back to FRA month) resulting in a large first payment but reducing the DRCs (delayed retirement credits) the applicant may have been aiming to get. Some people might want to get that retroactive payment, but others are aiming to get maximum DRCs. The recommendation was to be very clear in the application about wanting maximum DRCs.

invst65
Posts: 585
Joined: Thu Nov 27, 2014 11:04 am

Re: Question on applying for SS benefits

Post by invst65 » Tue Jun 12, 2018 9:44 am

GerryL wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:38 pm
invst65 wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 11:41 am
GerryL wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:46 am
neilpilot wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 9:57 pm

I assume you waited until you were 70 to maximize your monthly benefit. Hope you specified that you did not want retroactive benefits since SSA will often issue 6mo retro benefits which will reduce the monthly benefits to age 69.5. Is that what you meant by “with issues “?
Yup. As a "for example."
Can someone elaborate a bit more on the "issue" of the retroactive benefits. Is this something relevant only to those who have filed and suspended, or something everyone needs to worry about?
This has nothing to do with file and suspend. I saw warnings that sometimes the SS Admin office "helps" people who have delayed past FRA and given them as much as 6 months back payment (back to FRA month) resulting in a large first payment but reducing the DRCs (delayed retirement credits) the applicant may have been aiming to get. Some people might want to get that retroactive payment, but others are aiming to get maximum DRCs. The recommendation was to be very clear in the application about wanting maximum DRCs.
Thanks for the info. Sounds like it might be a training problem with those who process the applications. Not surprising.

So, when applying online, there is some place on the application to make it clear you want maximum DRC?

User avatar
GerryL
Posts: 1713
Joined: Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:40 pm

Re: Question on applying for SS benefits

Post by GerryL » Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:19 pm

invst65 wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 9:44 am

Thanks for the info. Sounds like it might be a training problem with those who process the applications. Not surprising.

So, when applying online, there is some place on the application to make it clear you want maximum DRC?
There are several places on the application -- including at the end -- where you can add comments or explanations.

In regards to training, there are hundreds of documented stories about SS Admin employees providing incomplete or incorrect information. I have almost always found the SS Admin employees I talk with to be friendly and helpful, but that is no guarantee that they are correct.

Post Reply