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. Julia F.

    When I retired, how many years do you go back on my work record to decide my monthly amount?

    Is it the last ten highest yearly?

    If not, how do you determine the amount?


    Julia Chastain

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Julia, thanks for using our blog. Social Security benefits are calculated by using your work history. For example, a Social Security retirement benefit is calculated by using your highest 35 years of earnings. If you do not have 35 years of earnings, we will use all of the earnings on your record and factor in an annual total of $0.00 earnings for each of the remaining years.

      Check out our factsheet “Your Retirement Benefit: How It’s Figured” for additional details.

  2. Li W.

    Hi, SSA oficer
    I will be 65 years old on December, 12 2020. I want to apply my medicare plan A. I am still working at now . Could you let me know how I can get my medicare card?
    Thank you for your help
    Li Wen

  3. Susan P.

    I do not know my password to my social security account. How can I reset this. Also I need to apply for ss benefits full retirement age my birthday is 12/21/1954

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Susan, thanks for using our blog. Check out our Frequently Asked Questions web page for details on how to retrieve or change your username or password.

      Our system is set up to take applications four months in advance, and when you’re ready, you can apply for your retirement benefits online. Keep in mind that Social Security benefits are paid the month after they are due. So, for instance, if your benefits begin with the month of December, you will receive your first benefit payment in January. We hope this is helpful!

  4. John O.

    Your “Apply online” page does not work. It read “generating” for a long time and then did not generate anything. Then I got a page that said this page cannot be reached.

    Please, let me know when you are up and functioning. I want to apply for retirement benefits

    Thank you,


  5. John T.

    Thanks for sharing the valuable content

  6. Dale

    I have been trying since November 2019 to get my social Security retirement benefit and coronavirus has interrupted all of this. My benefits are supposed to start in August 2020 and to this day I have not sorted a single thing out with Social Security. I have called SSA endlessly and been on hold for hours i’ll need to have a number of people tell me something different at every turn. I’ve written emails and I have not gotten any assistance whatsoever. I’m extremely upset about this and very let down. Certainly I understand what coronavirus has done to the world but good lord I’ve tried everything to get my retirement benefit sorted out and I really need your help. Thank you.

    • Debra M.

      I know how you feel. I’ll be 66 this month. They have had me sending them everything. They wanted copy of my drivers license but it had to be Certified. Lady at social security office told me to go to revenue office and they could give me a certified copy of my drivers licenses. I went and they told me they couldn’t give me anything like that. So I drove 40 miles to social security office, I called lady over my case I was driving to office. She wasn’t there but said she’d have some one meet me there. I got to social security office and waited hour and half. While I was trying waiting another lady putted up with bunch of paperwork. I watched her as she went up to social security office door. People was in building because cars was setting behind buildings. She knocked and beat on door. No one came to door. She came back by me setting in car. She said they needed her paperwork but couldn’t get anyone to door. I told her I been waiting 1 1/2 hour for some one to come out or come to social security office and get my license and copy it & bring back to me. But no one has showed up. Lady left. I waited little longer, it was already 4 pm. So I left. Next few days lady from social security office called me. Said do & so came to copy my license. And she tried to called me on my cell phone. I Told her my phone didn’t ring @ how long I waited. Then she said I had to send my drivers license. I said how am I going to drive without driving licenses. She said I HAD to send it. I got my my license back. But still not found out when getting a check.

  7. Timothy F.

    I registered my information with SSA. I am finding the actual place to identify the date I will plan on retiring, letting someone know and how to notify someone that I wish to start receiving my SSI monthy paycheck after a specific date. I think it’s great you have such an enormous website but there is also navigating that I am finding very difficult. I registered now how do I notify someone about my retirement start date? I would like to start at the end of August this year.

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Timothy, thanks for using our blog. Our system is set up to take Social Security retirement applications four months in advance, and you can apply for your benefits online. Keep in mind that benefits are paid the month after they are due. So, for instance, if you want your benefits to begin with the month of August, you will receive your first benefit payment in September. Please visit our Social Security Retirement Planner for more information.

  8. Gerald E.

    I will be 66 in December, what is the earliest, i can sign up?

  9. Rebecca M.

    Please call me @662-213-6280 concerning BNC#:20M1933C42890-A as soon as possible.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Rebecca. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., for assistance. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. You can also contact your local Social Security office. Look for the general inquiry telephone number under Show Additional Office Information. We hope this helps.

  10. Kim

    I recently applied for my retirement benefits and I was contacted by phone.. I did not get to talk to the caller but will be calling in on Monday to her extension.. What are some of the possible reasons I would need to speak to someone about my application? My husband never had to talk to anyone.. thanks..

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