The baby boomer generation is approaching the age of retirement, and while this will put a strain on its resources, those eligible can get Social Security benefit payments.
Here are ways to get Social Security benefit payments:
- Examine your Social Security Statement. This document is mailed to workers annually, and contains information that will aid them in preparing for their retirement, including a record of Social Security earnings and an estimate of various benefits. Use the benefits estimate for your retirement strategy then look for any errors in your statements. If you find any, report it promptly to the Social Security Administration. Unresolved errors can delay in processing your benefits payments indefinitely and must be corrected as early as possible.
- Contact the Social Security Administration. You may visit your nearest Social Security office to apply, or call their toll-free line during weekdays. State the type of benefit you want to avail of—spouse’s, disability, Medicare or retirement. Update the office on relevant changes, especially a transfer to a new address. The office may send updates for your case to the wrong location, delaying your petition.
- Show the required documents. The office will ask for your social security card, birth certificate, and other related documents. Provide the original versions and photocopies. Keep them in marked folders for future reference.
- Decide on the method of payment. You can ask for a monthly check by mail or a direct deposit to your bank account. A direct deposit costs the Social Security Administration less to process, is less prone to error and is more secure as compared to check payments. If you insist on check payments, make sure to deposit them immediately upon receipt; quickly report any missing checks to the Social Security office.
- Follow up on your application. If it was denied, you can ask for an appeal by submitting a written request within sixty days upon releasing their decision. A last resort is to hire representation; search the Web for lawyers with experience in this area then interview several of them to determine their fees and legal strategies. You can also look around message boards for recommendations on good lawyers.
- Take Social Security early. Even with a reduced monthly payout, some beneficiaries can take their payments early because they are too ill to work or they cannot find a job. Citizens who are entitled to complete benefits at 66 can only expect to receive three-quarters of their checks if they apply for it four years early. While they will receive this reduced amount for the rest of their lives, it can help them stay afloat in economically troubled times. Note that if people delay collecting their checks until they are 70, they can expect 32% more in their benefit payments. People who collected early can avail of these increased payments if they stop receiving benefits then pay back the government the amounts of benefits they received so far.
By visiting the official Social Security website, you can not only apply online, but also read your rights, responsibilities and other information that applies to your situation.