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 turn 70 years old. Here is our report on the latest chapter in that process – in short, we are making progress, but not there yet! (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.
A big surprise
– Here is the big surprise- don’t expect your first check the month you want your benefits to start! Rather, your first benefit month is the first whole month AFTER you claim (I wanted mine to start in August). So in my case the benefit starts in September, the first whole month. But don’t spend that September check, because SS pays in arrears. In October I am supposed to get my first benefit (direct deposit), which will be for Sept. So that was a bit of a shock.
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, albeit slowly. We shall see, hoping that payment gets deposited to my bank account in October!
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.