2007-09-21 / Columnists

Social Security And You

The Benefit Of Applying For Benefits Early - And Online
Commentary By James Glasser, Manager, Far Rockaway Social Security Office

James Glasser James Glasser Record numbers of new retirees will apply for Social Security benefits in the coming years. Why? This January the first wave of the 77-million- strong, baby-boomer generation will turn 62 and become eligible for reduced Social Security retirement benefits. That means that about 10,000 people per day will be newly eligible to apply for benefits. Social Security wants the experience for each of them to be as convenient as possible, so we are encouraging people to be aware of the benefits of filing online.

If you are ready to retire, and if the prospect of waiting in line at a government office does not appeal to you, then save yourself a trip and consider the advantages of applying for Social Security retirement benefits online. The Social Security website makes the process easy and convenient. Just log on to your computer and visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov/applytoretire. Here you can apply online for your retirement benefits from the comfort of your own home or office.

Before you begin the online application, you should be aware that it will be signed electronically. 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 may still need to have appropriate proofs 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 complete, sign and return the application form.

So, remember: if you are planning to retire in 2008 and you want your monthly payments to start in January, you should apply in October and get the process completed before the start of the busy holiday season. And for convenience, apply online! Then you can expect your benefits to begin on time in 2008.

Also, if you are not quite ready to retire, but are thinking about doing so in the near future, you may want to visit Social Security's website to use our convenient and informative retirement planner at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/. Here you can find out just how close you are to meeting your financial goals and then "bookmark" the website to actually file for retirement benefits whenever you are ready. Remember that you're always first in line when you do it online!

You can learn more about Social Security by visiting our website at www.socialsecurity.gov. Or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

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