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Our Online Social Security Application – Latest Update

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

(Updated October 3, 2018 – with an important new development) –July 18, 2018 — Back in May we reported on our experience of applying online for our Social Security retirement benefits. The plan was to have the application completed and accepted in time to start receiving benefits in August, 2018, the month we turned 70 years old. Here is our report on the final two chapters in that process. (You can read the entire report, including this update, at “Applying Online for Social Security- Our Experience“.
—-
July Update – Not quite there yet!
Since I filed my application in mid May I have been waiting to see what would happen with it. I did receive a letter from SS saying my application had been received, but no more info. Several times I went back to MySocialSecurityto try to see the status of the application. But every time I went in I got the same message dated May 14: “Application pending”

Benefit App Status

A call to Social Security
Since the same message had been displaying for 2 months, I decided I needed to call SS and inquire, since my goal was to have the application completed and start receiving my first check in August, when I turn 70.

So I called them up (1-800-772-1213) to find out. Here is what I learned:
– I called on a Monday afternoon. It took 50 minutes on hold to get a (helpful) rep. The automated process didn’t quite work because I couldn’t put my finger on my Filing Number. Make sure that when you apply you keep that number handy!
– The rep asked some qualifying questions to make sure it was really me, all pretty routine
– After being put on hold another 5 minutes or so, the rep informed me everything was fine with my application and I should be getting a confirmation letter by the end of the month.

October Update – A pleasant surprise
Back in July the Social Security office advised us that our first check would not come during the month we wanted our benefits to start (August). Even worse, we were informed that our first benefit month is the first whole month AFTER we claim. That would have meant the benefit started in September, but because SS pays in arrears, the first deposit (SS deposits the money directly into your bank) would have been in October. That was disappointing, and, it turns out, WRONG!

October brought two important developments. First, either the SS rep and their website were either wrong, or not very good communicators. You will get your first deposit the month after your benefits start. Second and related to the first, the first deposit actually arrived in my bank account on September 12 – a month before they said it would get there!

Bottom line
SS could do a better job of advising when your first payment will be made. The website could provide more information about the status of an application, and what the next steps will be. Phoning SS is slow, but you can get answers. The process seems to work. In the end the money arrived where it was supposed to go, and we were pleased with the amount, which because we waited until 70 to claim, is a lot bigger than it would have been at 62.

Comments? Have you gone through the process of applying for Social Security? If so was it online, over the phone, or in person? Any difficulties or surprises along the way? Were you happy, or not, with the experience? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

For further reading:
What You Don’t Know About Social Security Could Hurt You
Social Security Quiz
Applying for Social Security Online: Our Experience




Posted by Admin on July 17th, 2018

7 Comments »

  1. I had the same issue on date to receive first check. I wanted mine in January but got it in February. It is not clear on start date. Everything else went smooth. I am now waiting for Medicare to kick in August 1. I am having Plan B and Part D taken out of my check and the letters for ‘approval’ have been slow to come but finally did. My concern is that my Cards I have received say start date August 1 but they won’t take out for Plan B and Part D (out of SS check) till August 15th. So I hope when I refill prescriptions or see my doctor on August 2 everything will be in order!

    by Louise — July 18, 2018

  2. I just went through the same application process and had a totally different experience. I applied online in May and it took about a month and a half for processing. I checked the website periodically and when the disposition was mad the results were posted as well as mailed a short time after. They explained on their website what the average time line would be. My FRA is 66 and I start receiving benefits the month after. To me, it was all clearly explained.

    by TPeter — July 18, 2018

  3. If you want to receive the maximum check possible, in your application do you make your claim for the month you turn 70, or do you claim a month earlier so your first benefit month is the month you turn 70? In your situation should you have made the claim month July, the month before turning 70, so the benefit month would be August, and your first check September?

    by ron manuel — July 18, 2018

  4. The Social Security website does make starting your distributions much simpler and less time consuming than going to the nearest Social Security Administration office. I thought the site did explain the start date of the payments would be your requested application start date PLUS 30 days, but I may be wrong about that. One other fact to consider – Payment is scheduled based upon your DATE of Birth. Those born in the first 7 days of the month get payment sent on the first Wednesday of the month, 8-15 get paid the Second Wednesday, 16-22 get paid on the Third Wednesday and 23-last day of the month get posted on the Fourth Wednesday. Keep that in mind when you are budgeting your distribution!

    by M.Lewis — July 18, 2018

  5. I had a good experience online and I applied on a Thursday in this past January, was called by SS from Missouri the following Tuesday and was asked when I wanted my benefits to start which was February. My first check arrived to my bank account on March 28. I am born on the 25th of the month so I get my check the last Wednesday of the month. By waiting and not claiming it in January, I got a few more dollars added to the check, every little bit helps as I began my benefits at 63.5 years due to job elimination. It all went smoothly and whenever I call for help, I have gotten a very nice person. I called them once and made sure it was very early in the morning–right at 8AM mid-Atlantic time so I would not have a long que, but even then at 8AM, I waited 12 minutes.

    by Jennifer — July 18, 2018

  6. M.Lewis, you have given incorrect explanation of the payment dates. (I worked for SSA for 39 years.) The correct info is on socialsecurity.gov. Only people who were receiving benefits or had applied for benefits by 4/30/1997 get paid on the 3rd day of the month. After that, if birthdays fall on days 1-10, payment is on 2nd Wednesday, days 11-20 paid on 3rd Wed, and days 21-31 4th Wed. The benefits for a particular month are paid in the following month because a person must live the entire month to be due the benefit. For ex, If someone dies at 11:55 pm on July 31, the payment for July is not due. However, Medicare premiums are withheld for the current month and are due even if the person dies early in the month. When people receive their benefits in August, the payment will be for July while the August premium is withheld. These are cost-saving decisions made by Congress years ago. People can apply for benefits up to 4 months in advance – for ex, someone who wants benefits to start in January 2019, can apply Sept 1 or after.

    by Jean — July 18, 2018

  7. I applied online with no problems. I thought the process was smooth and the information sufficient.

    by Debra — July 19, 2018

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