Can You Clear Up My Confusion?

Nov 14 2018 - 8:08pm

I am using your very useful software, but I have a general question - I'm filing for the first time (age 70 in early January) and one of the most confusing questions on the SS online form is: "What date should benefits start?" I presume 01/2019 not the following month. I read on AARP that eligibility starts the month AFTER your birthday. Confused. Can you clarify? Many thanks.

Hi,

Hopefully, I can. I should start out by explaining that I answer the questions submitted to this forum, but I don't have access to customer data so I don't know the exact day of your birth. If you happen to have been born on January 1st, you'd want to choose December 2018 as your month of election to begin benefits. But, if you were born on any other day in January, you'd want to choose January 2019 as your month of election to begin benefits. My answer assumes that you want to begin benefits at age 70, which would give you your highest possible retirement benefit rate.

The source of your confusion is probably one of two things. One of those is that Social Security benefits are normally paid in the month following the month for which the payment is due, so if you choose January 2019 as your month of election your first payment will be scheduled for February 2019. The other possible source of confusion is that a person must be age 62 for an entire month in order to qualify for Social Security retirement benefits. So, people filing at age 62 can't be paid for their birth month unless they were born on the 1st or 2nd day of a month (https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0300615015). Obviously, you aren't filing at age 62, so that provision won't have any effect on you.

Best, Jerry