Social Security Benefits

*COVID-19 ("Coronavirus") Announcement: Local Social Security offices are offering more in-person appointments and have resumed in-person service for people without an appointment. As in-person services expand, it is strongly encouraged to continue to go online, call for help, and schedule appointments in advance. Learn more here


No one knows how long they will live and so to be on the safe side experts agree that when planning for retirement, you should plan for a long life expectancy. Many of us will live much longer than the "average" retiree. 

Generally, women tend to live longer than men. About one out of every four who are 65-year-old today will live past the age of 90, and one out of 10 will live past age 95. Social Security benefits provide valuable protection against outliving savings and other sources of retirement income, but it was never intended to provide all the money needed for a secure retirement. 

Eligibility Requirements and When to Place your Claim

If in your lifetime you have worked for ten years, you are eligible to place a claim to begin receiving Social Security benefits as early as age 62 and as late as age 70. Deciding when is best for you is a personal decision.

Refer to this chart to determine your full retirement age.

Social Security benefits are generally lower the earlier you place your claim. The initial payment will set the standard for ongoing payments, though you typically will receive cost of living increases from year-to-year. Social Security benefits continue until death.

Factors to consider when determining when to place a claim:

  • Your current cash needs 
  • Your health and family longevity  
  • Whether you plan to work in retirement  
  • Whether you have other retirement income sources  
  • Your anticipated future financial needs and obligations

Other factors to consider when placing a claim.

Apply for Social Security benefits online.

Assistance with Setting up an Online Account

Regardless of when you decide to apply for Social Security benefits, be sure to sign up for Medicare three months before reaching age 65. Otherwise, your Medicare medical insurance, as well as prescription drug coverage, could be delayed, and you could be charged higher premiums.

Use the Retirement Estimator to get an estimate of future Social Security payments that are based on your actual Social Security earnings record. Retirement estimates are just that - estimates. They will vary slightly from the actual benefit you may receive in the future.

Additional Information

Learn more about the current annual and monthly earning limits and how earnings affect your retirement benefits, by reading How Work Affects Your Benefits.

Call the Social Security office toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (for the deaf or hard of hearing, call the TTY number, 1-800-325-0778) if you have more questions. 

Find out more information about the difference between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Research Sources Include

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