Social Security is a federal insurance program catering to those whose ability to earn has been limited by old age, disability, or any other reason. The official name for this program in the United States is Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program. Even though it provides benefits to all the aforementioned categories, it is most popular amongst those who are nearing their retirement. Therefore, this article will outline some important guidelines concerning social security retirement applications.
Many of you may be wondering where do authorities get the money to compensate so many people who fall under the eligibility criteria. Therefore, let’s first understand what social security benefits are and how they function.
What are Social Security Retirement Benefits?
The social security program grants the beneficiary a certain percentage of the income they were earning in the pre-retirement period. This amount is given so that the retired person and his/her dependents can meet their basic needs. The percentage is determined based on the entire lifetime income of the person. The amount that these retirement benefits cover is equivalent to the 35 highest-earning years of a person’s life. Therefore, the monetary value of benefits received by different individuals may vary according to the amount they were earning and the time when they applied to receive the benefits.
Now, moving on to answer the query that where do these funds come from, you may be surprised to know that in a way, they come out of your pocket. We pay taxes during the time we are working and earning. Those taxes are used to make payments to the retired, the disabled, and the spouse or survivors of deceased beneficiaries. Consequently, when we retire, taxes from those who would be in the working-age group will account for our retirement benefits. Hence, it is an ongoing cycle.
How to Apply for the Social Security Retirement Application?
There are multiple ways to apply for the social security retirement plan that includes filling out an online request, calling the helpline, or visiting their office in person. If the applicant is a US citizen living abroad, s/he may also contact the US Embassy or the US Social Security office. However, before a person applies for these retirement benefits, s/he must equip themselves with knowledge about the basic requirements and prerequisites of the process.
The first step is to know if one is even eligible to apply. Otherwise, the application would eventually get rejected and the person’s entire effort would go to waste. Therefore, be informed that the minimum age to file for the social security retirement application is 62 years of age, the maximum being 70.
Applying for these benefits is a process that involves multiple steps. Hence, being aware of every stage will help you move across the stages faster.
First of all, you need to know which documents might be required so that you can gather or arrange them in advance. Once you have gathered these documents, you would need to fill out the application. This can be done either online or manually. Your application will then be reviewed by the relevant personnel. If they feel like they need additional information to reach a decision, they may contact you. Otherwise, a letter containing the decision will be dispatched to you. If your application is approved, you can start receiving your retirement benefits from then onwards.
However, if you are not happy with the decision, you have the option of challenging it. The period within which you can appeal a re-evaluation of your case is limited up to 60 days after the date when the initial decision was announced. Depending on the extent of a surety you have in the strength of your case, the appeal can be made at four different levels; 1) Requesting the Social Security staff for reconsideration, 2) Taking the matter to an administrative court, 3) Requesting an assessment by the Social Security Appeals Council and 4)Taking the matter to federal court.
Everyone’s preference would be to avoid the latter part and get the application accepted in one go without any additional stress. Therefore, we are listing down the details and documents normally required by Social Security along with an application for retirement benefits. Awareness of the following will allow you to keep a set of relevant paperwork ready.
When making a social security retirement application, one must be mentally prepared to share some personal details. We understand that some of you may not be comfortable doing so, but let’s keep in mind that these are required for an official purpose only.
First of all, the applicant’s Social Security Number would be asked for. In addition to that, personal details such as date and place of birth, along with that information of their spouse may be required as well. Besides, documents confirming location and date of marriage, or in unfortunate cases, death of a spouse, would need to be submitted as proof of the applicant’s relation with them. This is more likely to be an essential requirement when dependents of a deceased beneficiary are making an application to receive the retirement benefit on their behalf.
Married individuals may also be asked the names and details of school-going children, and of adult children who are under the age of 18 and unmarried. Also, if the applicant has any children who are disabled and below 22 years of age, their data would need to be shared. This information is probably collected to be able to assess the amount of support needed by a family.
Furthermore, a person’s bank account details will also be required to verify their credibility. Besides, if the applicants have applied for any other category of social security benefits on their own or anyone else’s behalf, they will need to notify the authorities. Similarly, the use of an alternative Social Security Number needs to be reported.
The contact information of your current employer and all of those for whom you have worked in the previous years will be required as employment-related details. Moreover, you will have to disclose the monetary amount earned by you in the current as well as the last year. If applying any time during or after September, an estimate of the next year’s earnings would also be required.
The decision-makers will require a record of your earnings in the form of a social security statement.
Anyone who has been a part of US military service before 1968, will need to reveal their employment history, whereas a person who has been out of work in the last 14 days due to any health-related problem will need to report that too.
The retirement application would also need to know if the applicant has been promised an annuity or a pension by any of the federal or local bodies.
Additional documents required may include proof of US citizenship, a copy of the W2 form, and a birth certificate.
Whatever information or document is required, ensure that you give an authentic one because social security officeholders can easily verify the data with the Bureau of Vital Statistics.
We hope that this information was useful for senior citizens who may be planning to apply for a social security retirement plan soon.