Q: I am 61 at this time and will turn 62 next January. I am planning on applying for Social Security retirement benefits in October, 3 months before by birthday.
My question is when will I receive my first Social Security check after I have applied for benefits? Will I receive it in February since my birthday is in January, or will my first check arrive in March?
A: Thank you for your question. You must be age 62 for the entire month in order to receive retirement benefits. Since you were born on January 28th, you legally attain retirement age on February 1st and are eligible for benefits beginning in February.
However, Social Security benefits are paid in the month following the month for which they are due so you will receive your first check on March 1st.
Social Security Benefits Now Paid by Direct Deposit
Starting in 2013, the SSA requires you to receive your Social Security benefits electronically. Receiving your benefits by direct deposit is safer, quicker and more convenient than having to wait for a check and take it to the bank. To learn more about direct deposit and how to sign up, click here.
Who Received the First Social Security Check?
The first person to receive monthly Social Security benefits was Ida May Fuller. Miss Fuller applied for Social Security on November 4, 1939. She received her first check for $22.54 on January 31, 1940.
How to Apply for Social Security Benefits
Once you’ve retired and decided when to start Social Security, how do you apply for benefits? There are three ways to apply for Social Security:
1. Apply online at SocialSecurity.gov
2. Talk to an SSA rep on the phone by calling 800-772-1213.
3. If you prefer a face-to-face appointment, you can visit your local SSA office. To find the closest office, visit the website at SocialSecurity.gov.
When to Apply for Medicare
If you are already collecting Social Security when you turn age 65, enrolling in Medicare is usually automatic. However, if you are not already receiving Social Security, you will need to contac the SSA to apply for Medicare. Failing to enroll in Medicare on time can result in penalties (higher premiums – permanently), so it’s important to understand how/when to apply for Medicare.
Learn more about applying for Medicare here.
Social Security Age: When Can I Retire?
People can collect benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70 (or anywhere in between). However, to receive your full retirement benefit, you will need to wait until your full retirement age, which is 66 for people retiring now (including baby boomers who were born between 1943 and 1954). The full Social Security retirement age gradually increases for people born after 1954 until it reaches age 67 (for people born in 1960 or later).
Getting the Maximum Social Security Benefits
Since Social Security makes up a large portion of retirees’ income, it’s important to maximize your benefit as much as possible. Some ways to do this include maximizing your earnings before you retire, working longer, delaying your benefits, and taking advantage of spousal benefits.
Don’t Underestimate Social Security When Planning for Retirement
Many people underestimate the impact that Social Security benefits will have on their retirement. As a result, they either collect benefits too early, or fail to take advantage of filing strategies that could benefit their family. Making the most of your Social Security is important because it provides a guaranteed income stream, a lifetime income, and it can provide benefits to your family when you are gone.
Continue reading Don’t Underestimate Social Security.