Social Security Retirement Benefits for Seniors

Social Security retirement is one of the main resources that U.S. retirees use to support themselves after they reach an age at which they can stop working. The average U.S. citizen lives 20 years after employment ends.

This means that many retired workers depend on Social Security retirement benefits to pay for some or all of their living expenses during those years after retirement. Because planning is an imperative part of the retirement process, many people should make sure that they understand Social Security benefits long before retirement age.

Whether you are looking for information on Social Security early retirement or planning to collect retirement benefits at the full retirement age, you should know your options as well as their requirements. Below is information on the basics of Social Security benefits, SSA retirement and other useful knowledge for retired seniors. From applying for benefits to collecting Social Security benefits, becoming familiar with the system will ultimately help you get the most out of retirement.

Eligibility for Social Security Retirement Benefits

Social Security retirement benefits can become a primary source of income for seniors during retirement. However, if certain criteria are not met within the proper timeline, some retirees may find themselves disappointed with the outcome of their benefits. SSA retirement benefits eligibility is based on the age of a worker, as well as the amount of time an individual worked. How much money a worker has paid into his or her lifetime SSA account also plays an important role in eligibility for benefits during retirement.

How to Apply for Social Security Retirement Benefits

If you are one of the many seniors seeking help on how to sign up for Social Security, it is not as overwhelming as you may think it is. It is especially simple to use the Social Security online application that allows users to save their work and come back to access it later.

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Alternative options to apply for Social Security retirement include either in person or by mail. However, applying online is the most efficient and timely method for completing the application process. Applying for retirement benefits online will ensure a fast decision and outcome for retirees, when possible. Additional advantages to utilizing the internet to apply for Social Security retirement online include the following:

  • It saves time and money by keeping applicants from having to visit an SSA office.
  • By completing the benefits application online, users can answer questions on their own time to look up information or find documents necessary to answer application questions.
  • Users can edit answers if they realize they have given an erroneous answer up until the application is submitted
  • Submitting online does not require stamps or a trip to a post office.
  • An online receipt is immediately available upon completion of the online application.
  • After the application is completed, applicants can check the status of their application at any time using the confirmation number provided on the receipt (status check is only available within the two months before benefits start).

Providing Information to the SSA When Applying for Social Security Retirement

There are important documents the SSA requires all Social Security retirement applicants to present or have available when they apply for benefits. Documents like a certified or original birth certificate, W-2 tax forms and other income-related and identity-related items are necessary. These items verify such important facts as identity and earnings.

Whether you file a Social Security online application, send your application by mail or apply in person, you will need to provide information on your employer(s) and work history. This applies to Social Security early retirement, delayed retirement and traditional retirement benefits, alike. It is recommended that you determine these things before you begin your application. Below is a sample of required work-related information Social Security applicants should prepare to provide upon completing an application:

  • Name and address of this year and last year’s employer(s)
  • Earnings from this year and last year; if filing for benefits during the last quarter of the year (September through December), estimate earnings for the following year as well
  • Record of your earnings such as a copy of your Social Security Statement (this statement can be accessed online via your SSA account)
  • Injuries, illnesses or conditions within the last 14 months that prevented you from working and the date you became unable to work
  • Proof you or your spouse has ever worked for the railroad, if applicable
  • Proof of any Social Security credits earned under the Social Security system of another country, if applicable
  • Proof of qualification to receive a pension or indication that you expect to receive one or an annuity based on employment with the U. S. federal government or any local subdivisions

How to Determine Your Retirement Benefits Amount

It is important that seniors understand how to calculate Social Security benefits so that they make sure they are getting the most benefits they can. It is also essential that retirees learn how to check their benefits to confirm the amount due to them. The SSA offers easy formulas for calculating Social Security retirement amount so that anyone can determine how much benefits they can expect to receive. Anticipating realistic benefits and knowing what to expect when it comes time to retire will help seniors or upcoming seniors plan for their future. Having enough funds and resources to sustain a full and adequate life after retirement makes a big difference in the quality of living for seniors.

Social Security Benefits for Surviving Spouses

For a surviving spouse, Social Security spousal benefits often play an important role in his or her well-being. Many widows and widowers collect Social Security retirement benefits on their spouses’ retirement. However, there are eligibility requirements that must be met within certain timeframes and an application process that must also be completed in a timely manner. It is important for couples approaching retirement or for those who are already there to discuss their SSA retirement ahead of time.

Understanding Social Security spousal benefits rules and the ongoing requirements for maintaining benefits is an important part of planning for the unexpected. This knowledge is vital for retaining benefit payments after the death of a spouse and sustaining those payments for as long as possible thereafter. When questions come up, spouses should seek answers and learn the answers, especially when it comes to the well-being of their loved ones after they are gone.

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