Enroll 90 days before you want benefits to begin

Now that Social Security offices have reopened post-Covid, you have multiple options for filing and the initial claim for benefits. Social Security benefits may be claimed online, via a telephone call, or through a visit to a local office.

The online option is the simplest and can be accessed through the website ssa.gov. You must have opened your own “my Social Security” account to use the online service. You cannot enroll online without first completing the enrollment for the “my Social Security” account. That process can be cumbersome, especially when it comes to verifying your identity.

In the “my Social Security” account, you will find your entire work history, your benefit statement, which shows possible benefit levels, and other correspondence from the Social Security Administration.

For those claiming benefits at age 62, the first month of eligibility is the month after your 62nd birthday. The online process is relatively simple, although there are frequent questions that may give you paths on how to answer. Sometimes REDW Wealth can assist you in walking through the claiming process using a screen-sharing program that lets us see your progress once you log into your account.

17 Factors to Consider Consider When Claiming Social Security

How long does it take to get the first Social Security check after applying? 

Checks can come as quickly as 6-8 weeks after enrollment. You will find that Social Security Administration recommends enrolling up to 90 days before the date you want benefits to begin. If you sign up for benefits in July starting July, your benefit check will be mailed after you have lived through your first benefit month. Social Security benefits are always paid in arrears.

Documents needed for Social Security retirement benefits usually include:

  • void check or direct deposit into your account
  • a marriage certificate
  • date and place of marriage
  • the Social Security number for a spouse or ex-spouse