When should I apply for retirement benefits?

Generally, you should file for retirement benefits 3 months before you want your benefits to begin. However, retirement benefits can not begin before age 62.

When you apply for benefits, you will need the following information:

•your Social Security number
•your birth certificate;
•your W-2 forms or self-employment tax return for last year;
•your military discharge papers if you had military service;
•your spouse`s birth certificate and Social Security number if he or she is applying for benefits;
•children`s birth certificates and Social Security numbers, if applying for children`s benefits;
•proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if you (or a spouse or child is applying for benefits) were not born in the U.S.; and
•the name of your bank and your account number so your benefits can be directly deposited into your account.
You will need to submit original documents or copies certified by the issuing office. You can mail or bring them to the Social Security office.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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