What You Should Know About Applying For Retirement

October 31, 2019 • By

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Last Updated: October 31, 2019

" "Approaching and preparing for retirement can be a daunting task, but we are here to make it as easy as possible. Social Security has eliminated the forms, signatures, wait time, and appointments. We made it easy, convenient and secure. You can complete our online retirement application in as little as 15 minutes from your preferred location, at a time most convenient for you.

Before you apply, you should think about things like how you’ll receive benefits, your health, and whether anyone else in your family can get benefits on your record. Let’s go over the basics together, just to make sure you’re on the right track for retirement, when the time comes.

The age you choose to retire affects the amount of benefits you receive and when you can start receiving them. If you start them any time before your full retirement age, we’ll reduce your monthly benefit. Depending on your year of birth, your full retirement age is likely between age 66 and 67. You may start receiving benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70.

If you elect to receive benefits before you reach full retirement age, and continue to work, it can affect your benefits. Social Security has an awesome tool called the Retirement Estimator that calculates a personal estimate of how much your benefit will be at different ages and “stop work” dates. You can use it to find the best combination for your situation.

You can read about other things to consider before you make your decision about when to begin your benefits. If you’re ready to apply, you can do it online. It’s easy, convenient, and secure!

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About the Author

Mike Korbey, Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Mike Korbey, Deputy Commissioner for Communications


  1. Mario F.

    Excellent Information. You are doing your best to keep everybody inform about benefits. In about 8 months I will apply for my benefits and all these information help me to make a wise decision.


  2. Mary P.

    I’m on disability. I’m turning 63yrs old this December. Does my disibility turn into my retirement payment or how does this work? Is retirement a higher salary than disibility or is it the same amount?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Mary. Thanks for your question. When you reach full retirement age, we will automatically convert your disability benefits to retirement benefits, but the benefit amount remains the same. Therefore, you don’t have to do anything. To find out your full retirement age, please visit here. We hope this helps.

  3. Thomas L.

    If I choose to retire at a overseas location, for example in my case, Taiwan. How will I apply for Social Security Retire Benefit in Taiwan. Can it be done on-line as well. How about the bank account which receives the retirement check? How is it done to have SSRB check direct deposit to my bank account in Taiwan?
    Thank you.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Thomas. Thanks for your questions. If you are living outside of the U.S. you can contact your local Federal Benefits Unit for any assistance related to Social Security benefits. Also, our Office of International Operations home page provides more information to assist our customers living abroad. We hope this helps.

  4. RL

    It’s not any clearer after this posting.
    My retirement day is somewhere between 66 and 67..boy is that helpful, not.
    Does it mean either on your 66th or 67th birthday or somewhere on or between them?
    Will you screw me if I start the process at 65.5, but want to start receiving at 66?

    • Kay

      I am not an expert but I have read pretty extensively on SS. Your full retirement age depends on your birthday. For anyone born in 1954 or a few years earlier, full retirement age is 66. If you were born after 1954, full retirement age starts to incrementally increase. Google “SS full retirement age” and you should be able to narrow it down by looking at your birth year.

    • Kay

      You should be able to designate that you do not want benefits to start until the month you turn your full retirement age. I will be 66 in June 2020 and I plan on starting the application process in April, with the certain understanding that I do not want benefits to start any earlier than my full retirement age of 66. Make sure that is understood on your application. My understanding is that the first payment will be in the month following the birthday month, so in my case I will expect the first payment in July 2020.
      Starting the application process 6 months in advance may not be the best timing. From what I’ve read, 2-3 months ahead of the time you want to start benefits is optimal.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, RL. Full retirement age is the age at which a person may first become entitled to full or unreduced retirement benefits. For more information, visit our Retirement Planner: Benefits By Year Of Birth. Thanks.

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  7. Elida S.

    I received money from SSDI, saying it was for my retirement, this month. Am i going to receive this every month and will it affect my SSDI that i receive every month?

    • Luis A.

      Hi Elida. Thank you for your question. When you reach full retirement age, we automatically convert your disability (SSDI) benefits to retirement benefits, but the amount remains the same. We hope this helps.

  8. Andrew B.

    Why is it hard for the Federal US Congress to pass legislative laws to allow the sells of Medical marijuana & recreation Marijuana which will produce enough Tax Revenue to boost Social Security funds for the next 120 years.

  9. Deborah

    Does one need to wait to ones’ birthday to get the 8% increase for every year they wait to receive? or is it prorated?

    • Kay

      It is figured on a monthly basis.

    • Marilyn

      I worked for the state for a while and did not pay into Social Security (pension instead). How can I find out how much I will get in Social Security benefits?

      • Ann C.

        Hi, Marilyn. Thanks for your question. A pension based on work that is not covered by Social Security (for example, Federal civil service and some State or local government agencies, such as police officers and some teachers) may cause the amount of your Social Security benefit to be reduced. Your benefit can be reduced based on one of two provisions: The Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision. To learn more, please visit here. You can use the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) Online Calculator to calculate your estimated retirement or disability benefits if you are affected by the WEP. We hope this helps.

    • Luis A.

      Hi Deborah. Thanks for your question. You earn an 8% increase for every year (12 months) that you delay receiving your Social Security retirement benefits. These increases, called delayed retirement credits, are added automatically from the time you reached your full retirement age until you start receiving benefits or reached age 70. They are not prorated. You can learn more about the retirement benefits at our Benefits Planner: Retirement page. We hope this helps.

  10. Alfred W.

    I would like to know or if someone call me back concerning my first payment where SSA took168.00 dollars from me without any explanation. My number is 2252292983. I’ve gone to get SSA office several times and no explanation from SSA. Looking forward to hearing from you.

    • Kay

      Could it be your Medicare Part B payment, increased because of an IRMAA adjustment? Or your Part B and Part D combined? Or did you request that income taxes be taken out? Do you have any debts in arrears like student loans?

    • Luis A.

      Hi Alfred. Your question is more complex than what we can answer in this venue. For your security, we do not have access to your personal information in this forum. Please call our toll free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), from Monday through Friday, between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. If you decide to visit local Social Security office, please ask to speak to a manager. We hope this helps.

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