The smart way to claim social security benefits during the coronavirus pandemic


Are you ready to apply for Social Security benefits? Have you made your retirement plan, executed the different scenarios and decided the time is right? Unfortunately, Social Security offices are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, so you can’t just come in and discuss it with a counselor. There are, however, several other ways to claim your benefits, and they are much simpler than walking into an office.

Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides all services over the phone or online. It’s easier to do this online, but if you’re having trouble navigating the website, you can make an appointment with a Social Security representative for a phone consultation. Here are five steps to guide you through the process.

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Step 1: Review the information

First, open an account and view your latest Social Security statement. This will allow you to know the amount of benefits to which you are entitled. Check your income history to make sure everything is correct. This is important because the amount of your benefit is based on what you have earned over the course of your life. If this information is wrong, you may not get the full amount you are entitled to.

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Step 2: Gather your documents

When you apply for benefits, you usually need the following documents:

  • Your birth certificate
  • Proof of your U.S. citizenship
  • A copy of your US military service papers if you served in the military before 1968
  • A copy of your W-2 form (s) and / or your tax return from last year if you were self-employed
  • Your social security card

They may also request the following information, so make sure you have it:

  • Your date and place of birth
  • Your spouse’s name, date of birth and social security number, and information about your former spouses. They may even ask you for the date and place of your marriage, as well as the dates of any divorce or death.
  • Your children’s names
  • If you’ve ever applied for Social Security, Medicare, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

It’s the era of the pandemic, however, so you can’t make it to the SSA office with your documents. If you are filing online or by phone, you will only need the information on these documents. If you call, make sure you have this information in one place so you can easily pass it on to your representative.

An elderly person on a cell phone

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Step 3: Decide if you want to file online or by phone

The easiest way to apply for benefits is to use the online application process. According to the Social Security website: “ [A]retirement / Medicare can take between 10 to 30 minutes to be completed according to your situation. You can register your application as you go, so that you can take a break at any time. ”

If your situation is complicated or if you are uncomfortable using the Internet to file, you can make an appointment to file by phone by calling 800-772-1213. (If you are hearing impaired, you can call 800-325-0778.) Phones are monitored Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. At the time of your appointment, the representative will call you. Don’t worry if the appeal is late – Social Security officials, like the rest of us, are often late.

You have to file a return one or two months before benefits start, but if you’re the worried type, you can do so up to three or four months before. It takes a little time to process the paperwork; by putting in your app a few months in advance, you can fix any issues that arise without interfering with your start date.

Hand holding pen and filling out social security form, with glasses and calculator on top of papers.

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Step 4: Complete the application

During the days leading up to the pandemic, you can simply walk into the Social Security office and fill out an application. However, since the offices are closed, you can do this online.

If you are starting to fill out the application form but find it too confusing or complicated, call the agency and make a phone appointment. When calling, the social security representative will complete the form for you.

A man is holding several fan-shaped banknotes in an open wallet.

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Step 5, last step: enjoy your benefits

Voila… you are done! After submitting your file, you will receive a letter in the mail telling you how much you will receive each month. If you are already receiving Medicare by direct withdrawal from your bank account, you no longer need to do so – the monthly Medicare fee will be deducted directly from your benefits.

Typically, Social Security checks are paid on the second, third, and fourth Wednesday of each month, but the day you receive yours depends on your date of birth, according to the following schedule:

  • If you were born between the 1st and the 10th, you will receive the check on the second Wednesday.
  • If you were born between the 11th and the 20th, the third Wednesday.
  • If you were born between the 21st and the 31st, the fourth Wednesday.

It’s easier than ever to apply for Social Security during the pandemic online or by phone. Once you’ve done that, sit back and wait for the money to be directly deposited into your account and start enjoying your retirement. You’ve earned every penny!


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