So I’m getting up there where signing up for Social Security will be an option for me. Specifically, will be 62 in a few months. I imagine, having said that, some will feel the need to tell me that the smartest thing I could do, if I don’t need the money, is wait. I agree, and it’s the most common piece of advice I’ve seen in my attempts at research. My reason(s) for starting this discussion is more about ‘How?’ than ‘When?’.
I’ll add that I have a copy of Get What’s Yours , the updated version (printed after the 2015/2016 changes). I’ve only skimmed here and there, and freely admit I need to read it.
My personal details, that could possibly affect how I sign up:
Married for 25 years
She’s about 9 months older than me (so makes a difference when she can sign up; to date, she has not)
I am retired from the USAF (did 20 years,and receiving a pension)
Neither my wife nor I work, and that isn’t likely to change
We have a handicapped son, age 42, who was handicapped from birth (so before age 22) and who receives (has received) SSI practically all his life (in care of his mother, of course)
Despite marrying his mother when he was 17 and the emotional bonds he and I have (this is MY son), as yet I have no LEGAL ties to him, aside from claiming him on our Married Filing Jointly tax returns all these years ( I know I need to see a family attorney to get all that squared away, but that’s another discussion)
Our annual income (as near as I can figure) is low enough that we likely won’t have our SS taxed at all
While I have done a fair bit of research, assume I know nothing. I very recently (yesterday!) attempted a telephone talk with a local SS agent, asking several questions. My biggest takeaway was, if I am going to assert that such-and-such detail should be so-and-so, be able to name the source. More than once, my knowledge was challenged by things like ‘Where did you hear that?’ For instance, I knew that the time of my military service should have an impact on my final monthly amount; I read it, in detail, on the SSA website. However, when my assertion was refuted, I couldn’t do more at the time than weakly refer to ‘your website.’
Having said ALL THAT, I now come to the Ask: how was YOUR sign-up experience? Did you sign up online, with no help? Did you sit with an agent in your local SS office? If you did research to know the ins and outs, what was most helpful to you? What about Spousal Benefits? What about Survivor Benefits? Do you have to do something specific to add Survivor Benefits (and is there a cost?), or is just automatic?
My aim, as anyone’s should be, is to make sure I check all the boxes to maximize my amount and not miss anything important by not knowing if something is important (or even not knowing about something that I should). The obvious disclaimer is that no one’s advice or anecdotal experience or even confirmed knowledge given here will be construed as Gospel, since everyone’s situation is theirs alone, and what you relate will not 100% apply to my situation.
Thanks in advance for any and all contributions!
Edited to add: Mods, I chose IMHO as opposed to Factual Questions since I’m asking more for personal experience, even though facts may be given in any replies. Please move as appropriate.