There are three methods you can use to apply for Social Security retirement benefits – but just in case you’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, here’s how to do it:
1.) By Phone – call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 between the hours of 7am and 7pm (they don’t say, but I’m assuming this is Eastern time) to set up an appointment to apply. You can also call 1-800-325-0778 for TTY service, if you require it.
2.) In Person – just show up at your local Social Security Administration office. You can find the closest office by clicking this link and entering your ZIP code. From what I hear, visiting the local office can be a hit or miss experience, similar to visiting the DMV to get your driver’s license renewed. You could get right in with little wait, but more likely you’ll spend quite a bit of time “in queue”. Here’s a tip though: if you can work it out, I understand that the day after Thanksgiving is the best day of all to visit the local SSA office. They’re open and operating, but nobody expects them to be. It’s worth a try.
3.) Online – you can go to the Social Security website and there, right in the middle of the page, is a link to “Select Below to Apply For: Retirement Benefits”. You can use this online application if you’re at least 61 years and 9 months of age, and you plan to begin your benefits within the next four months (you also live in the US or one of its commonwealths or territories).
If you’re already age 62 or better, you could begin receiving benefits as early as the month you apply. In addition, if you’re at least 64 years, 8 months of age, your online Social Security benefit application will also include applying for Medicare.
Things you’ll need before you start the process: