You can start collecting Social Security benefits as early as 62 years of age, but the Social Security Administration (SSA) will reduce your benefits for applying for them prematurely. If you wait until your retirement age, you can receive your full benefit amount.
Your full retirement age is either 66 or 67, depending on when you were born. If you apply for retirement benefits before your full retirement age, the SSA cuts your benefits by up to 30 percent. Likewise, if you wait until 70 years old, your monthly benefit will be higher.
You can apply for Social Security retirement benefits online, by phone, or at a Social Security office.
If you apply online, you will need to create a my Social Security account on the SSA’s website. There, you will be able to complete the application and submit it digitally.
Tips for applying for retirement benefits online:You can skip a question and return to it later if you do not have the information at the time.
• You can save your application and return to it later. When you sign in again, go to “Return to a Saved Application.”
• You cannot use special characters, periods, and commas for certain sections, including addresses. For example, use NW instead of N.W. for northwest.
• You can apply by phone, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. by calling the SSA office.
You can also submit the application in person at your local Social Security office. Through both the phone and in-person methods, a representative will guide you through the process.