Applying for Social Security isn’t as hard as you might think. While there are plenty of rules and regulations you must follow, simply understanding the process is a big step in navigation your Social Security application.
To get started, gather all your necessary documents, including your Social Security card, a certified copy of your birth certificate, your previous year’s W-2 or tax return and your proof of residency or legal alien status. If you were discharged from the military before 1968, you must have a certified copy of your discharge papers.
In addition to qualifying based on your own work history, you may also qualify on your spouse’s work record as well. This is true even if your spouse is deceased, has not yet claimed Social Security benefits or is an ex-spouse. If you qualify under both yours and your spouse’s records, you will receive only one benefit but it will be the higher of the two.
Qualifying on your spouse’s record does not affect his or her ability to claim Social Security benefits later.
A pension on the other hand, may affect your benefits and your annual Social Security statement may not currently reflect this adjustment. If you are receiving a pension from a job where you did not pay Social Security, you should contact the Social Security Administration office to find out how it will affect your benefits.
You can apply for Social Security as early as age 62 but keep in mind that the earlier you apply, the less you’ll receive. Likewise, postponing your application for a few more years can mean a considerable difference in your monthly benefits.