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Senior Resources » A Baby Boomer’s Guide to Social Security

A Baby Boomer’s Guide to Social Security

Social Security Card.

Every month, about 10,000 of us Baby Boomers turn 65—a milestone and the age one can claim full Social Security benefits. However, a lot of Boomers may have questions about Social Security. Like: How do I apply? And: Do I automatically receive Social Security the day I turn 65? You’ve got questions, and we’ve got answers. Here’s everything you need to know about applying for Social Security.

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Applying for Social Security

Boomer lady in a green shirt looking over paperwork with a smile on her face.

Applying for Social Security benefits is easy, and there are several different ways you can do it. You can apply:

  • Online
  • By visiting your local Social Security office
  • By calling the Social Security Administration’s national toll-free service at 1-800-772-1213

Related: Why You Should Create a “My Social Security Account”

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Am I Eligible for Social Security?

Boomer couple smiling.

In order to be eligible for Social Security benefits, one must meet a few requirements. Those are:

  • You must be 62 or older
  • You’ve worked and paid Social Security taxes for 10 years or more (according to SSA.gov)

Working and paying your Social Security taxes earns credits. A person who was born in 1929 or later needs forty credits—or ten years of work—to qualify. It’s important to note that credit-earning stops when you stop working. Also, if you haven’t earned forty credits, you’re not eligible for Social Security benefits.

Related: When to Expect Your Social Security Checks

When Should You Take the Plunge?

Black gentleman in yellow shirt pensively jotting down information in a notebook.

Deciding to retire is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. Bear in mind—Social Security replaces approximately 40 percent of a person’s pre-retirement income. In other words, if you can live a comfortable life on 40 percent of what you were earning, retirement should be a no-brainer. According to financial experts, the majority of people nearing retirement age can only get by with 75-80 percent of their pre-retirement income in order to live a lifestyle they are accustomed to.

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In order to draw full retirement benefits, various age-related rules apply. For example, if you were born between 1943 and 1954, all of your retirement benefits may be drawn at the age of 66.  However, if you were born in 1955, full retirement benefits can be drawn at age 66, plus two months. Your local Social Security office can provide you with the exact age and eligibility requirements.

Related: What Happens if You Work While Receiving Social Security?

Important Documents Needed for Social Security Benefits Application

White Boomer couple high-fiving in their home.

The Social Security Administration may require you to provide certain documents before they’ll issue benefits. These may include:

  • Your original birth certificate
  • proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if you were not born in the United States (according to SSA.gov)
  • A copy of W2 or self-employment tax return
  • A copy of military service papers
  • Your Social Security card

Since many people eligible for Social Security benefits choose to have their check direct deposited each month, you may also want to have your banking information ready. You’ll need the name of your bank, address, routing number, and your account number, available on the bottom of your personal check. As you can see, the process for application is not as difficult as it sounds. So, Boomers, if you’re approaching or past your 65th birthday, don’t delay. Apply for Social Security benefits today. You’ll be glad you did!

Social Security Information and Resources For Seniors and Retirees

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Originally published April 13, 2023

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