Social Security Tips
What to Know Before You File
- Set up a mySSA account as soon as possible. There’s no need to wait until you’re ready to file for benefits. When I worked for the Administration, I saw a lot of identity theft related to people not setting up this type of account. If you don’t set one up for yourself, or have it blocked, someone else could set one up for you and potentially change important information on your record.
- The absolute earliest you can file ahead of time is 3 months. If you try to set up an appointment or file online earlier, the computer system with SSA won’t allow it. A representative can’t work around this, so it’s not worth your time to try.
- If you want benefits to begin in a certain month, make sure you file online or set up an appointment in that month, at the very latest. If you wait even one month too long, in most cases, you won’t be able to go back to your chosen month.
- As long as you file or set up an appointment in the month that you want your benefits to start, there won’t be a delay in your payments.
- Filing online is the quickest and most efficient way to file. This way you can make sure the information input is correct and there is no waiting days, weeks, or months to speak to a representative to have them file for you.
- There are certain original or certified copies of documents that Social Security will request to see when you file for retirement benefits with them. Try to have these available before you file or set up an appointment:
- An unexpired, government issued ID (driver license, state issued ID, or passport are common examples)
- An original birth certificate or certified copy from the county clerk’s office (these documents usually have a raised seal on them)
- If you’re married, had any prior marriages that lasted over ten years, or if you had any previous marriages that ended in death, you will need to present the original marriage license for these events. SSA will not accept photocopies at all.
- If you were in the military, bring your original DD-214
- If you don’t have these documents, don’t delay filing. Sometimes SSA has access to these documents. If they don’t, they may be able to help you request them. Just know that if they have to request them for you, it will take longer to process your claim.
- Consult with a financial professional to make sure you are filing for benefits at the optimal time for your personal situation. While your situation may be very simple, I found many times where people never fully understood ALL their options and failed to file at their optimal time. I worked there and am willing to help you.