2004-10-29 / Columnists

Social Security And You

File Now For a January, 2005 Retirement
By James Glasser, Manager, Far Rockaway Social Security Center


James Glasser
James Glasser “Never leave [for] tomorrow what you can do today.”

That famous advice from Benjamin Franklin can be applied to many of life’s activities—including filing for Social Security retirement benefits.

Here is what I mean.

We generally encourage people to notify us about three months before the month in which they plan to retire. If you are planning to retire in 2005 and you want your monthly payments to start in January, there is really no need to wait until later in the year to apply for retirement benefits. You can do it now – in October – and get the paperwork done before the start of the busy holiday season. Your monthly payments will then begin on time in 2005.

To apply for benefits, just visit your local office or call 1-800-772-1213. Or, better still, you can use our most convenient method and apply over the Internet at www. socialsecurity.gov/ applytoretire.

If you do choose to apply online, you will find that the Internet application process is even more convenient since we added an ‘electronic signature’ feature earlier this year. Before you begin the online application, we will tell you that it will be signed electronically. After you enter the information needed, we will ask you to confirm the truthfulness of the information you provide, under penalty of perjury as with the paper application. You will be able to review and correct your answers before sending them to us, and you can also print out the pages if you wish to do so. When you click on the “sign now” button at the end of the application, you are signing the application electronically and accepting responsibility for the accuracy of the information you submit to Social Security.

Of course, we will still need to have appropriate proof to make a decision on your claim, such as proof of age, earnings, marriage and sufficient medical evidence for disability claims. But we will be able to streamline the claims process and provide better service to you by eliminating the need to sign and return the application form.

So remember: if you are planning an early 2005 retirement, don’t procrastinate. Now is the time to contact Social Security. Simply apply now and mark one more “to do” item off of your busy fall schedule.

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