Now that you’ve stopped dreaming of a white Christmas, you need a new dream to inspire you. Do you crave the spontaneity of unplanned travel combined with the relaxed pace of retirement? Here’s a To-Do list that can make that retirement dream a reality.
1) Sign up for a my Social Security Account
The account helps you do retirement planning now and receive services once you’re a beneficiary. The account allows you to use your Social Security Statement to check your work credits, review your history of earnings and see estimates for retirement, disability and family survivor benefits. As a beneficiary, you can get a benefit verification letter, change your address and phone, start or change direct deposit, replace a missing Medicare card, or replace a lost SSA-1099 for tax season.
2) Review your Social Security Statement
If you have never done it before, now is the time to review your earnings history year by year. Check to make sure that Social Security has an accurate record of your earnings. We use these earnings to calculate your benefit, so you want them to be correct. If you find an error, locate your W-2 and call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.
3) Do some homework about retirement benefits
Visiting our Retirement Planner at www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/ will help you learn about the factors you should consider when deciding when to file for Social Security retirement benefits. For a good general overview of retirement benefits, read our
publication, Retirement Benefits, found at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10035.pdf.
4) Choose the month you want to retire
The most important decision you will make about Social Security is when to begin receiving payments. Should you take it early and receive a smaller amount for a longer period? Should you defer it to increase the monthly payment? Have you considered longevity using our calculator (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/lifeexpectancy.html)? What about your spouse? Social Security has gathered the information you need to consider in a factsheet called When to Start Receiving Retirement Benefits. It is available online at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10147.pdf .
5) Assemble the documents and info you will need
Social Security has provided a handy checklist of documents you may need to show (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/applying5.html) and information you’ll need to know (www.ssa.gov/hlp/isba/10/isba-checklist.pdf).
6) File 3 months before you want benefits to start
You can start your benefits any month you are age 62 or older, but we need time to process your claim. We suggest filing 3 months before you want checks to start.
7) File online
Try filing online (https://secure.ssa.gov/iClaim/rib) to see how easy filing for retirement benefits can be. An employee reviews all applications received and you can ask us questions by using the “Remarks” section.
“A goal is a dream with a deadline”. Give your retirement dream a deadline by using our To-Do list today. Then you’ll be ready to blaze your own trail into retirement.