To get Social Security benefits the applicant needs to go online, or to the nearest social security benefits office, to receive and make out an application. To be eligible, a person must have earned money and made payments into the system that the work. This money can come from wages, self employment, military service, railroad earnings, household employment, government employment, farm work, nonprofit/religious organizations or work outside the United States. A person must have paid into the system in order to receive benefits from it.
There are certain rules about applying for SS benefits. The applicant must have reached the age of 61 years and nine months in order to apply. It is necessary to apply for benefits a minimum of four months prior to start of payments. It is advised that, even if not applying for benefits that a person to sign up for Medicare six months before their 65th birthday.
In applying for these benefits the applicant will be asked to provide certain documents. Those documents would include a birth certificate and another document to prove age, U.S. citizenship, and identity. A Social Security card must also be presented.
If the name on the birth certificate is not the same as on the Social Security card, then one must show proof as to why there is a difference. For example, a marriage or an adoption certificate. All of documents presented must have original certification. No photocopies are accepted. A person will also be asked to provide bank information as Social Security checks are mailed directly to bank accounts, or if preferred, a person can sign up for a direct express card program. In this case the check is sent to the card.
If a person does not have a Social Security card or wishes to change information on their record, such as a name change, correction, birth date or other information, they must provide proof of identity, papers to support the change, and establish a valid reason. On occasion they might be required to prove identity of their prior name as well as their new, legal name. Proof must be provided to show U.S. citizenship or current lawful, work-authorized status.
There are rules regarding when can receive these benefit payments. The earliest age they can be received is 62, but at less benefits. Under SS rules the age varies as to when you can get full benefits. If you were born in 1937 or earlier you can get full retirement at age 65. If you were born in 1960 or later you must be 67 years of age to get full benefits. A chart is available on the Social Security website for those who were born between 1938 and 1959.
If someone retires earlier than their official retirement age they will receive a monthly check. The payments are, of course, less than if they waited. Some people rationalize that by retiring early they will get the payments for a longer period of time then if they waited until the official date.
It is possible to continue working after starting to receive Social Security benefit payments. A person is allowed to earn a certain amount, currently $12,480.00, at which point security payments will be reduced as long as they are working. Once they reach their regular retirement age is a reached, they will receive Social Security payments no matter how much they work.