Before you apply for retirement benefits: what to know

By Vonda Van Til, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

Are you thinking about retiring and applying for Social Security retirement benefits?  Our online tools can make your planning easier.  Visit to access your personal my Social Security account to get an instant and personalized estimate of your retirement benefits based on your earnings record.

It is important that your earnings record is correct because we base your benefit amount on the earnings reported to us.  If you find an error, you will want to contact us to get your information corrected.  Read our publication, How to Correct Your Social Security Earnings Record, at, to learn how.

You can also get benefit estimates based on different retirement ages and choose the best retirement age for you.  Don’t have a personal my Social Security account?  You can create one today at

When you’re ready to apply for Social Security retirement benefits, you can complete your application online in as little as 15 minutes at  We will contact you if we need any more information.  You can check the status of your application with your personal my Social Security account.

You can apply online for your Social Security retirement benefits, and for benefits as a spouse, if you meet all the following criteria:

  • You must be at least age 62 for the entire month to be eligible to receive benefits.
  • You are not currently receiving benefits on your own Social Security record.
  • You have not already applied for retirement benefits.
  • You want your benefits to start no later than four months in the future. (We cannot process your application if you apply for benefits more than four months in advance.)

Find more information about our online services at

Vonda Van Til is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan.  You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at