If 2013 is your year to retire, prepare now

November 5, 2012 

Do you plan to begin receiving Social Security retirement benefits early in 2013? If so, now is the time to prepare. We recommend that you apply up to four months before you want your retirement benefits to begin.

These days, you no longer need to travel to an office or wait in line to apply for benefits. You can do it from your home or office computer. The Social Security website at www.socialsecurity.gov makes the process easy and convenient.

You can complete your application for retirement benefits in as little as 15 minutes. In most cases, after you submit your online application electronically, that’s all you have to do.

You’re done. There are no forms to sign or additional paperwork to complete. In a few rare cases where we need additional information, a representative will contact you.

Not ready to retire yet? Perhaps you want to plan ahead, and begin considering your options regarding when would be the best time for your to retire.

In that case, you’ll want to visit Social Security’s website to use our convenient and informative retirement planner at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2.

Here you can find out just how close you are to meeting your financial goals and then “bookmark” the website to apply for retirement benefits whenever you are ready.

We encourage people at any stage in their working career to use the Retirement Estimator for an instant, personalized estimate of future retirement benefits. Find it at www.socialsecurity.gov/ estimator.

Remember that you’re always first in line when you go online, to www.socialsecurity.gov.

Here’s to a lucky 2013. If you’re planning to retire and begin receiving Social Security benefits in January, start the year off right by applying online now for Social Security benefits.

Michael W. Grochowski is Social Security regional commissioner in Atlanta.

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