(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”
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!
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.