United States has one of the most efficient social security systems. However, the qualification and computation of the social security that one receives is somewhat complex. Being aware of the basic requirements that one must fulfill in order to qualify for the social security benefits can help in a more informed planning for the retired life.
There are two major requirements needed to apply for Social Security retirement benefits. First you should be eligible to receive the retirement benefits; second, you should apply for it along with all necessary details to the Social Security administration.
Eligibility for Social Security Retirement Benefits
Youneed to satisfy two major criteria for being eligible for Social Security retirement benefits. One pertains to having worked for a minimum period, and second is attaining the age of retirement.
To be eligible for social security retirement benefits, you must have earned at least 40 credits for the QUARTERS in which you have earned a prescribed minimum amount during the quarter. For 2013, the minimum earning required will be $ 1160 per quarter to get a credit for it. One can get a maximum credit for four quarters every year. You need to have earned at least 40 quarterly credits before the age of retirement to become eligible for any social security retirement benefits.
Age of Retirement
The earliest age at which one can begin to get retirement benefits is 62 years, but at that age one would not get full retirement benefits. The age at which full retirement benefits become available is between 65 to 67 years, depending upon your age of birth.
If you are born before 1938, you are eligible to get full retirement benefits at age of 65 years. For those born in years 1938 to 1942, the retirement age for full retirement benefits increases by two months for every year. Thus, for those born in 1938, it would be 65 years and
For those born from 1955 to 1959, the age for full retirement benefits again increases by two months for every year. It will be 66 years and six months for a person born in 1957. For anyone born in 1960 or thereafter, the retirement age for full retirement benefits will be 67 years.
If you opt for retirement benefits at age of 62, instead of the age at which you are eligible for full retirement benefits, then your retirement benefits will be reduced. If your retirement age is 67 years, your benefits may be reduced to around 70 percent of full benefits. Currently, the reduction for those opting to retire at 62 is up to 80 percent of full benefits.
Application for Retirement Benefits
Application for Social Security retirement benefits can be made in three ways - in the local Social Security administration office, by mail or online at the website of Social Security Administration, www.ssa.gov. You can seek any clarifications regarding retirement benefits by calling the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213.
Information to be Submitted along with Application
The following information will be required to be submitted along with the application for Social Security retirement benefits.
(i) Original / copy of Social Security card
(ii) Birth Certificate
(iii) W-2 form or Self-employment tax return
(iv) Proof of Citizenship
(v) Your bank account number
Once all the requirements of making an application and being eligible are fulfilled you can expect to receive the retirement benefits very soon.