How do I make sure I get all my DRCs at age 70 and restrict retroactive benefits if I have to apply by phone or at my local SS office? I have been taking my spousal benefits only since my full retirement age (born in 1950), applying online as you recommended. I intended to apply for my own benefits online 3 months before turning 70, knowing that I could include a statement restricting retroactive benefits and print my application for proof. I just read your answer to another question on procedure and see that because I am receiving spousal benefits, I must apply at my local SS office or by phone. I have been reading your books and Q & A's for years and know that SS has automatically defaulted to 6 months of retroactive benefits when people apply after full retirement age, then sending the applicant a check for the retroactive benefits. This ends up cutting out the last 6 months of DRCs, permanently lowering the monthly benefit. How do I ensure this does not happen to me? Which method of application is safer--phone or local office? Can I ask for a printed copy of my application? Thanks for all the help over the years. C
All you really need to do is specify the month that you reach age 70 as your month of election to start your benefits. Social Security only applies retroactivity to an application if the applicant chooses a conditional month of election (https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200204041). So, for example, if you reach age 70 in October you'd want to specify October as your month of election to start benefits. If you happen to have been born on the first day of a month, though, you'd want to start your benefits effective with month prior to your birth month since that's when Social Security would count you as reaching age 70.
Whether you file by phone or in-person, Social Security should give you a copy of your completed application when your application is finished. You'll want to review the application closely to make sure that the correct month of election to start benefits is shown on the application.