When Should You Apply for Social Security Benefits?

The Social Security Administration recommends applying for Social Security benefits three months before a person wants to receive benefits. The earliest date for applying is at age 61 and nine months. If a person is already 62 when she applies, benefits may start the month of application.

In order to receive Social Security benefits, an applicant must provide original documents including birth records, marriage certificates, tax returns and military records. Upon approval of the application, the applicant receives benefits the month after they are due. The monthly payment date depends on a person's birth date and occurs on different Wednesdays within a month according to an established schedule.