How to apply for Social Security benefits
Two months before you reach 65 years of age, you will need to apply for Medicare. Medicare becomes your primary insurance policy at age 65, and any employer-provided health insurance becomes secondary. If you don't apply for Medicare, you may end up without health insurance. This is typical for most people who have medical benefits from an employer. If you don't have employer insurance, you can buy various types of supplementary medical insurance.
It is important to know that even though you qualify for Medicare insurance at age 65, you may not qualify for full retirement benefits yet. Social Security retirement benefits are accrued depending on your year of birth. People born from 1943 to 1954 need to wait until they become 66 to achieve "full retirement age". People born from 1955 to 1959 qualify for full retirement at ages 66 and 2 months to 66 and 10 months. Those born in 1960 or later qualify for full retirement only at age 67. Delaying the retirement age is one of the things that the Social Security Administration has done in an effort to provide services for an aging population with longer lifespans.
When you apply for Medicare or Social Security, you need to have the following documents:
- Original Birth Certificate or a Certified Copy of your birth certificate
- Citizenship/Naturalization (if other than your U.S. birth certificate)
- U.S. Military Service (DD214 - Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty)
- Wages from your employer for last year (W-2 form)
- Self-employment income for last year (IRS Schedules C and SE)
- Marriage certificate as proof of marriage if you qualify for benefits as a spouse
The Social Security Administration requires to see your original birth certificate or other proof of age. They do not accept photocopies unless they are certified by the office that issued the original. If Citizenship or Naturalization is involved, they also need original documents. The office can accept uncertified copies of military service papers, W-2 or IRS Schedule C or SE forms. If you have already proven your date of birth and citizenship status while filing for Medicare, you do not need to submit these proofs again when applying for Social Security.
You can apply for Social Security benefits online at www.socialsecurity.gov
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