How To Enroll In Social Security Benefits

You will have many different income channels in retirement from investments to pensions to cash to one of our favorites and specialties, Social Security. Social Security is a huge part of your retirement income plan. Not only do these benefits replace about 40% of your income, but they also have huge implications for spouses and dependents. 

Making the right Social Security strategy can be a huge asset to your retirement plan. But how do you even enroll in the first place? Let’s take a look!

Prep Work

There is some prep work when it comes to filing for Social Security benefits. This work requires a comprehensive strategy in order to help you maximize your benefit. It is also crucial for how your benefits will function throughout your entire retirement. 

There are a couple of basic requirements for you to apply for benefits:

  • You are at least 62 years old
  • You need a minimum of 40 work credits (calculated by dollar amount per year)

There are, of course, some exceptions like if you file for a disability benefit or survivor benefit. Let’s stick with the basics for now.

But meeting the basic requirements doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s time to press start. It is important to create a strategy around the timing of enrolling for benefits. By collecting at the earliest time possible, 62, you can expect a permanent reduction of your monthly benefit, at least 25% in fact. Whereas waiting until your full retirement age or even later (8% increase per year over full retirement age) can help boost your monthly check giving you more flexibility in your retirement income plan. 

Once you reach full retirement age to start collecting benefits, you’ll need to notify the Social Security Administration. You can tell them if you will be starting or deferring the benefits to a later age.

Enrolling

So many government forms and proceedings can be incredibly time-consuming time for very little payout. But, fortunately, Social Security enrollment doesn’t require you to “take a number” and sit in uncomfortable chairs all afternoon.

The fastest and easiest way to apply for benefits is to head over to the SSA website and apply online. You will be able to fill out a new application and will be able to check the status of your application all through the website. 

You can also call your local branch if you’d prefer to enroll over the phone. In pre-COVID-19 times, you would have also had the option to make an appointment at your local branch but most branches are closed to the public for safety and have moved to a more virtual format.

Need Help?

Filing for Social Security is an important step in your retirement journey. Let it be done with thought, care, and intention to make the most out of it. Our team can help with all of your Social Security questions! Get in touch with us to find out more.

Wood Smith Advisors, a woman-owned Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), is a fee-only financial services firm that partners with its clients to simplify their financial lives. We focus on women, entrepreneurs, and individuals with complex financial situations, providing objective and competent advice, education, and services to help them develop and build their businesses and reach their financial goals. We can be reached by clicking here.

"Finance Made Simple" blog posts are intended for educational purposes and not for specific advice. Each person’s situation is different. Consult your financial advisor for advice relating to topics discussed.

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