What You Need To Apply For Social Security Retirement Benefits In United States

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. A little preparation and planning can avoid hassles.
What You Need to Apply for Social Security Retirement Benefits in United States
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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

You need 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.

Working Requirement

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 two months, while for those born in 1942, it would be 65 years and ten months. For those born from 1943 to 1954, the retirement age for full retirement benefits is 66 years.

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) Social Security Identity

Original / copy of Social Security Card or alternatively, a record of your Social Security Number (SSN)

(ii) Certification for Date of Birth

Birth Certificate (either original certificate or any other proof or a copy of Birth Certificate certified by the issuing agency)

(iii) Tax Records

W-2 form(s) and/ or your self-employment tax return for the latest year applicable

(iv) Documentation for Citizenship of lawful Alien Status

Proof of Citizenship can be established by any documents showing that you were born in the United States. For those born outside the United States, any one of the following four documents are generally accepted as a proof of citizenship: (A) U.S. consular report of birth (B) U.S. passport (C) Certificate of Naturalization, or (D) Certificate of Citizenship.

For lawful alien atatus, you need to make available the relevant documents issues by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including the ‘Green Card’, i.e. Permanent Resident Card in Form I-551 (it is to verify your 9-digit Alien Registration Number (A-Number), and the Admission-Departure Record in DHS form I-94, in case you have one (it is required to verify your 11-digit Admission Number).

(v) Documentation of Your Military Records

A copy of your U.S. military service paper(s), for instance the Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD-214) needs to be submitted, for those who had been in military service prior to 1968.

(v) The Documents relating to Your Spouse and Children

If your spouse is applying for the benefits to the spouse or, then you need to submit his / her birth certificate and social security number. In case any of your children are applying for benefit to children, then you need to submit their birth certificate and social security numbers as well.

(v) Your bank account number

Bank account number needs to be provided for receiving the retirement benefit.

What Next

Once all the requirements of making an application and being eligible are fulfilled you can expect to receive the retirement benefits very soon. Ordinarily, you the application should be made at least four months in advance, and the benefits for a particular month are paid after the month. So the benefits for the month of January will paid in the month of February.

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