In March 2016, when I was 66, I filed and suspended my Social Security benefits. I am now 70 and am trying to activate them. My local SS office seems to say that I have to go through the whole filing process again. I had hoped that there would be a way they could simply "flip a switch" administratively to start my payments. Isn't there an abbreviated way to start payments, since I already filed in 2016? If so, can I do it online, or must I go in to the local SS office? [Online would help, since there is a backlog for appointments at the local office.] Thank you.
If you're certain that you filed for and suspended your benefits, then you shouldn't need to do anything to start up your benefits at age 70. Social Security automatically reinstates benefits effective with the month that a person reaches age 70, but only if they've voluntarily suspended benefits that they've filed for and been awarded (https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0202409130).
There seems to be a lot of confusion about what filing for and suspending benefits actually means, so if Social Security has advised you that you still need to apply for benefits then you should probably verify your status. If you have in fact filed for and suspended your benefits then you should have an established master beneficiary record (MBR) on file at Social Security, and your payment status would show 'suspended'. You should be able to confirm that by calling Social Security's toll free number 1-800-772-1213, or by visiting one of their offices.
If no MBR has been established for you then you would still need to file an application for your benefits, which you should be able to do online (https://secure.ssa.gov/iClaim/rib). However, if you've previously filed an application with Social Security even just for Medicare only, then you'll likely need to call or visit an office in order to apply for your Social Security benefits.