Dear Rusty: I am a few weeks away from my 61st birthday. I was wondering how far in advance of my 62nd birthday next year should I file my Social Security benefits paperwork in order to get my first check the same month I turn 62? I usually work a part time job during the winter months - but that job fell through this fall 2022. So, I do not want to waste any time getting that first check arriving the minute I turn 62 in November 2023. I don’t want to take any chances of delays in starting my Social Security retirement benefits since I am currently not working. Signed: Ready to Retire Soon
Dear Ready to Retire: Unless you were born on November 1st or 2nd, you will first become eligible for Social Security in December of 2023. That’s because you must be 62 for the entire month before you can get Social Security for that month. If you were born on either the 1st or 2nd of November, then November 2023 will be your first month of eligibility and your first payment will be received in December. But if you turn 62 after November 2nd, your first month of eligibility will be December 2023 and your first payment will be received in January 2024 (Social Security pays benefits in the month following the month they are earned).
Social Security recommends you apply for your retirement benefit about three months before you wish your payments to begin, but you can apply as much as four months prior. When you complete the application there will be a question asking when you wish your benefits to start, and you should select the one that says, “I want benefits beginning with the earliest possible month and will accept an age-related reduction.” Be aware that your age 62 benefit amount will be permanently reduced (your age 62 benefit will be 70 percent of the amount you would get at your full retirement age (FRA) of 67).
By applying as suggested above, you will get your first Social Security payment as early as possible, but you should also know that the exact date of your payment depends on the day of the month you were born. If you were born between the 1st and 10th of the month, you’ll get your payment in your bank account on the second Wednesday of every month; if you were born between the 11th and 20th of the month, your payment will be received on the third Wednesday of every month; and if your birthday is after the 20th of the month, the payment will be in your account on the fourth Wednesday of every month.
You can apply for benefits by making an appointment to do so at 1.800.772.1213 or by calling your local SS office, but the most efficient way to apply is online at www.ssa.gov/retire. To apply online, you’ll need to first create your personal “my Social Security” online account, which is easy to do at www.ssa.gov/myaccount.
The information presented in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The opinions and interpretations expressed in this article are the viewpoints of the Association of Mature American Citizens Foundation’s Social Security Advisory staff. To submit a question, contact the Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.