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Apply for SS online?
Old 06-25-2016, 08:39 PM   #1
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Apply for SS online?

I'm turning 70 later this year and will apply for Social Security soon. Just wondering if anyone has advice about the application process -- cautionary tales, pitfalls to avoid, etc.? How far ahead of your planned starting date did you apply?

SSA seems to encourage you to apply online and the process looks pretty straightforward. The alternative is to make an appointment and do it in person but I wonder if there's any advantage in doing that. Has anyone had any issues with applying online?
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Old 06-25-2016, 09:08 PM   #2
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It was very simple. I did it about 2 1/2 months before the start date. I was surprised that I did not need to produce a birth certificate or any form of identification. About a week after I applied, a lady from SS called to verify a couple of things, including the direct deposit information. She mentioned that if I waited, I would get X dollars more per month. Said "no thanks," without getting into a discussion about the payments I would not get if I waited and the concept of actuarially equal.
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Old 06-25-2016, 09:12 PM   #3
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I did everything on line about three months prior to turning 62 and had no problems whatsoever. That was three years ago.
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Old 06-25-2016, 11:32 PM   #4
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I just went to the SS office last week to apply in person, as I will shortly be FRA. I had to use a computer across the counter from an agent/clerk, using the exact same interface I would have seen at home, and the agent/clerk pulled down the blinds between us "for privacy" (hers, not mine). There was a doorbell to push if I had any questions while I was entering all my data from scratch (when DH applied at the same office 18 months ago, the agent's program had all the data already in place and DH just had to supply the direct deposit information). I went in person because I was applying under a soon-to-be-closed loophole (restricting my benefits to DH's record now and letting my own grow til I am 70), and I sure hope the application is clear on that! The agent/clerk knew what I was doing so it should be okay.

So my advice to OP is not to bother going to the SS office but just do it online at home as there shouldn't be any options applying at age 70. I doubt there will even be stand-alone SS offices within or so three years.
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Old 06-26-2016, 05:21 AM   #5
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My mom just applied online and she said it was easy. She said it was too easy. She said she was "asked" several times online if someone was helping her apply and never had to supply proof of identification.
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Old 06-26-2016, 08:14 AM   #6
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For those who have done it, when should one apply and how long before payments begin? For example, I have a single friend who may start at 62... when should he apply to have payments start as soon as possible after his 62nd birthday?
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Old 06-26-2016, 08:16 AM   #7
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For those who have done it, when should one apply and how long before payments begin? For example, I have a single friend who may start at 62... when should he apply to have payments start as soon as possible after his 62nd birthday?
If I recall correctly, you can apply up to 90 days prior. When payments begin depends on the day of the month on which your birthday falls - and there is a one or two month delay before payments start. Example, birthday Jan 3, first payment on the second Wednesday of March.
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Old 06-26-2016, 08:35 AM   #8
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I'm still years away from applying. But mental note taken..."One more reason to avoid going to the SSA office." I'm sure the SSA is actually quite happy with home computer applicants.
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Old 06-26-2016, 10:45 AM   #9
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Just be aware that to apply online, if you have a credit freeze in place (I think with Experian), you will have to unfreeze before applying.
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Old 06-26-2016, 11:22 AM   #10
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We have applied a total of three times (initially for DW, then to add me as spouse, then for me at full benefit and to switch DW to spouse). First two times were online but an agent followed up on the 2nd time to confirm some details. The third time we went in because I thought the transaction was complicated enough that it was warranted. The agent suggested that I should add my military service to my file (for some reason it was missing) so I followed up by sending in my DD214. I don't think it will make a difference but the computer was telling her it might so we did it for completeness. Will turn 70 in July so first full size benefit is to be paid in August.
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Old 06-26-2016, 11:45 AM   #11
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I applied online 2 years ago, 89 days prior to my 62 birthday. Never had to go in or answer any questions. That said, about 10 years ago, I could not log into my SS account and I found out my mother's maiden name was misspelled in SS records.I had to go in with birth certificate to get that straightened out. My address was same as 10 years ago, so that may be why mine flew right thru.
My So applied 9 months ago, and had to take birth certificate and proof of marriage into the office(or we may have been able to mail, but why when they are 3 miles away). Zero problems in office.
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Old 06-26-2016, 12:07 PM   #12
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Thanks to all who responded. A question about the calculation: my 70th birthday is towards the end of the month so my SS check will be deposited on the 4th Wednesday. Do they automatically calculate the starting date as the first date of the month or can I specify my birthdate as the starting date to maximize the benefit (and would that mean that the first payment is for a partial month?).
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Old 06-26-2016, 12:47 PM   #13
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I applied online last spring and frankly, waited longer than I should have because I forgot to, and only applied about a month before FRA. No issues and payments started on time.

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Originally Posted by lucky penny View Post
Thanks to all who responded. A question about the calculation: my 70th birthday is towards the end of the month so my SS check will be deposited on the 4th Wednesday. Do they automatically calculate the starting date as the first date of the month or can I specify my birthdate as the starting date to maximize the benefit (and would that mean that the first payment is for a partial month?).
In my case anyway they automatically calculated the starting time and yes I did get a partial payment the first month. I read an article somewhere that it is actually better to apply online because the online process asks if you want payments to start exactly at FRA and the in-person agents sometimes assume that you want payments to start when you apply.

They also later sent a snail-mail statement showing when payments would start, including the first partial payment, what the payments would be, and when they would be deposited. There was no interaction with any actual live human beings, no phone calls, no office visit required. All in all only slightly more complicated than buying something on Amazon simply because of the volume of information you have to enter. There were no surprises for me.
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Old 06-26-2016, 01:59 PM   #14
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Three years ago when I applied on-line, it was simple and painless. I don't remember how long it took (less than 15 mins as I recall) but I completed it in one on-line visit. The checks started being deposited electronically in my checking account right on schedule. I suspect some professional web service runs the web site for the government since it worked so well.

Now, what you didn't ask. Correcting problems or dealing with the SSA in person can be problematic. Twice so far they have come back to me claiming I made to much money (earned income) in the previous year and notified me that they were going to stop my monthly payments until they "caught up". In both cases they were wrong (same issue both times). I "quickly" filled out a written appeal as required both times, but it still took 3 to 4 months and a visit to my local office (75 miles away) to get it straight. Each time, the issue was resolved in a few days after my visit.

Another gotcha, if you need to call your local office specifically, be sure to ask where the agent is located when they answer the phone. Many local offices forward their calls to other offices and they (answering agent) won't tell you where they are located unless you ask. I have probably made 6 to 8 calls to my local office in the past three years and they have never answer the phone (it's always been forwarded to another office) Sometimes that might not matter, but sometimes it does.
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Old 06-26-2016, 03:35 PM   #15
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Can one file a restricted application on line? Yes, I just made the cutoff.


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Old 06-26-2016, 11:17 PM   #16
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I suggest you go there in person. At least if you have less than thirty years of substantial earnings and have worked in a job that did not take out Social Security. Furthermore, if you have had prior military service, that might well impact the number of years of substantial earnings. It did me.

I saw, online, that they had me down for 25 years of substantial earnings. I calculated I had 26 years’ worth. I had proof that I earned around $1,200 dollars while in service in, I think, 1964 or 1965. Fifty bucks or so below the substantial earnings amount for that year. But that really meant I had earned, on paper, an additional $300 dollars per quarter, per Social Security regulations. This put me over into the substantial earnings category.

So, I prepared an easy to understand breakdown of my yearly substantial earnings numbers, along with my military pay stub info, and tactfully mentioned this to the Social Security person handling my submission. Worked like a charm.

Just a suggestion.

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What about DW's status?
Old 06-27-2016, 06:32 AM   #17
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What about DW's status?

OK, it looks like easy-peasy for me to apply on line. But since my wife started taking SS at age 62 (because of a family history of medical issues) how do we change her status so she can get half of my benefit amount? Can she re-apply--on line?
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Old 06-27-2016, 10:02 AM   #18
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Applied online, no problem. Checks start in October, I hope...
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Old 06-27-2016, 10:57 AM   #19
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Can one file a restricted application on line? Yes, I just made the cutoff.


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Can you elaborate? Eventually I will apply for that as a divorcee. I understand I have to supply marriage & divorce decrees. How does it work?
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Old 06-27-2016, 03:01 PM   #20
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Can you elaborate? Eventually I will apply for that as a divorcee. I understand I have to supply marriage & divorce decrees. How does it work?

If one is of a certain age (currently cannot recall), one can file for spousal benefits only and then apply for own benefits later, in my case age 70.

If one is younger than that certain age, you cannot restrict your application and are deemed to be applying for your own benefits when you file.

Here is the link - see table. https://www.kitces.com/blog/navigati...ication-rules/


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