Social Security: How far in advance can I apply? – Community News
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Social Security: How far in advance can I apply?

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When applying for Social Security benefits, timing is everything. The age at which you start receiving benefits can greatly affect how much money you receive each month.

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The rule of thumb is that the sooner you decide to make distributions, the smaller your monthly check will be if you wait until full retirement age — or the maximum age of 70 — to take advantage of benefits.

According to the Social Security Administration, age 62 is 62 at the earliest, but you must be 62 throughout the month. This means that if you turn 62 on the 28th of the month, you will have to wait until the following month to apply for benefits for the first time.

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If you were born on the first or second day of the month, you meet this requirement when you turn 62. If you were born on a different day of the month, you will not meet this requirement until the following month.

The SSA states that you can apply up to four months before you want your retirement benefits to start. This is the earliest you can claim Social Security benefits to ensure that your benefits begin to be paid once you turn 62. For example, if you turn 62 on December 2, you can start the August application process as early as December.

According to the administration, even if you are not ready to retire, you must sign up for Medicare three months before your 65th birthday.

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If you wait longer to claim your benefits, you may receive more by check. The benefits are reduced to 30% if you claim benefits at age 62 instead of full retirement age. You can receive even more if you wait until the age of 70. The difference between taking benefits at age 70 and age 62 can sometimes be $800.

To check when to sign up, log into the SSA site and get an estimate of your benefit amount and find out what the difference will be if you wait to take benefits or not.

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Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who studied post-industrial capitalist structures at New York University. She has eight years of experience in concentrations in asset management, portfolio management, private client banking and investment research. Georgina has written for Investopedia and WallStreetMojo.

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