How far in advance can someone file for retirement benefits?
Individuals can apply for Social Security retirement benefits when they are at least 61 years and 9 months of age. If later than that, they can apply three months before they want their benefits to start. For example, if someone wants their benefits to begin in May 2017, they can file in February. If their benefits start in May, they will not receive their first payment until June.
Even if a person is not ready to retire, they still should sign up for Medicare three months before their 65th birthday.
When ready to apply for retirement benefits, the quickest, easiest, and most convenient way to apply is online at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire.
Medicare while working
Choosing to sign up for Medicare is an important decision that involves a number of issues to consider. The decision will depend on the situation and the type of health insurance the individual has. Individuals can delay signing up for Medicare Part B without a late enrollment penalty if either they or their spouse (or a family member, if disabled) are working, and getting health insurance benefits based on current employment*.
In most cases, if an individual doesn’t sign up for Part B when first eligible, they’ll have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as they have Part B.
*Coverage based on current employment does not include:
- COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act);
- Retiree health coverage;
- VA (Veterans Affairs) health coverage; or
- Individual health coverage (like through the Health Insurance Marketplace).
Go to www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10043.pdf for more details.