Social Security Q&A: When, and where, do I apply for benefits

Social Security recipients can apply for benefits up to four months ahead of time.
Published: January 6, 2013
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Q: I'm reaching my full retirement age and thinking about retiring in early 2013. When is the best time of year to apply for Social Security benefits?

A: If you are planning to retire in early 2013, you can apply now. You can apply as early as four months prior to when you want your monthly benefits to begin. To apply, just go to www.socialsecurity.gov/applytoretire.

Applying online for retirement benefits from the convenience of your home or office is secure and can take as little as 15 minutes. It's so easy!

You can apply online

Q: My wife and I live in Minnesota, but plan to spend the winter in New Mexico. My wife will turn 62 while we are down south. Can she apply for benefits in New Mexico, or do we have to wait until we get back home to apply for retirement at our local Social Security office?

A: These days, you don't even have to be near a Social Security office to apply for benefits. Regardless of where you and your wife are living, you can apply for retirement benefits online at www.socialsecurity.gov/applytoretire. It's so easy to do, and it can take as little as 15 minutes to complete and submit the application. If she prefers, your wife can file a retirement benefit application at any Social Security office — including the one closest to you in Minnesota, New Mexico, or wherever you happen to be.

This column was prepared by the Social Security Administration. For fast answers to specific questions, call Social Security toll-free at (800) 772-1213.


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