Apply for Social Security retirement benefits online at SSA.gov, advises the Social Security Administration. Alternatively, use a number listed on the website to apply by phone, or apply in person at a local Social Security office.
Use the online application if you are 61 years and nine months or older and plan to begin receiving retirement benefits within four months, states the Social Security Administration. Provide information about yourself, your household and your employment. If you are unable to complete the application in one sitting, save it and get back to it later. When you have finished, review your application, submit it, and print a copy of the receipt. Check the status of your application online using the confirmation number on your receipt.
Although you can begin receiving monthly retirement benefits as early as age 62, Social Security permanently reduces the monthly amount for every month you receive payments before full retirement age, points out the Social Security Administration. If you were born after 1942, full retirement age is between 66 and 67. If you delay receiving benefits until after full retirement age, you accrue delayed retirement credits that make your monthly benefit amounts larger. Use the online retirement estimator calculator to find out how much your benefits would be at different ages.