Most seniors live on a fixed income. When you are in that situation, you will want to do everything that you can to make the most of your money and to maximize your benefits. Regardless of what kind of Social Security benefits you receive – disability, retirement, auxiliary, or survivors’ benefits, you will want to choose wisely so you can maximize your benefits and get the highest amount of monthly benefits that you can receive. Here are a few things to consider when applying for Social Security benefits.
The full retirement age is 65. If you start taking retirement benefits earlier – such as at age 62 or 63 – you will not receive your full amount. If you become unable to work because of a medical problem before you reach age 65, you should apply for disability benefits. When you get disability benefits, you will get your full benefit amount. When you reach full retirement age, you will switch from disability to retirement and get your full benefit amount.
Looking at Auxiliary Benefits and Survivors’ Benefits
If your spouse is receiving disability benefits and you are not yet retired or receiving Social Security, you may be eligible to receive auxiliary benefits from his or her account. Auxiliary benefits are paid to dependent children and the spouse of the disabled individual, but there are specific family limits as to how much the combined family can receive. If you were married at least a year, or if you have been divorced after having been married 10 years or more and your spouse or former spouse dies, you may want to apply for survivors’ benefits.
If you are eligible for retirement benefits, you will want to take the highest paying benefit – either draw from your work history and take retirement benefits or draw from your spouse’s history and take survivors’ benefits. You cannot draw benefits from two different Social Security programs or accounts at one time. You should take your time to talk with the representative at your local Social Security office to determine which benefits would pay you more so you can maximize your monthly benefits.
Wait for Retirement
If you are eligible for some other kind of benefits – disability, survivors’ or auxiliary benefits, it is best to go ahead and take those benefits and wait on your retirement until you reach full age. When you do this, you will draw your full benefit when you turn 65. You will want to plan so the transition can happen immediately when you turn 65.
Applying for Social Security Benefits
When you are ready to apply for Social Security benefits, you should plan ahead and review the application process. Contact your local Social Security office. You can start your claim online at www.ssa.gov or by calling 1-800-772-1213. The process does take some time, so file your claim in advance so you can get your benefits started promptly. If you or your spouse is applying for disability benefits, you will want to consult with a Social Security disability attorney who is licensed in your state.
Auxiliary Benefits: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/glossary/auxiliary-benefits
Local SSA Office: https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp
Social Security Disability Attorneys by State: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/social-security-disability-attorney