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Howard Kossover: Apply now to start getting your SSA benefits in January

Q: I want my Social Security retirement to start for January. When should I complete my application?

A: Now is a good time. Use the SSA Retirement Planner tools at and then complete the online application or call the SSA national number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), for an appointment.

Have the following available when completing your retirement application:

  • Your date and place of birth and Social Security number (SSN).
  • The name, SSN and date of birth or age of your spouse plus the date and place of marriage. For a previous marriage that ended in death or a marriage that lasted at least ten years before ending in divorce, have the same information available.
  • If you have a child under age 19, or a child severely disabled before he or she was age 22, know their date of birth and SSN.
  • Your bank or other financial institution’s Routing Transit Number and your account number for electronic deposit of benefits.
  • The name and address of your employer(s) for last year and this year.
  • Your actual earnings amount from gross wages or net self-employment for last year and estimated amounts for this year and next year. Last year’s W-2 form might be requested if needed to update your work record.
  • It is suggested that you create a my Social Security account at in order to view the earnings shown on your SSA Statement for accuracy.
  • You might need to provide your birth certificate or proof of citizenship or lawful alien status if not born in the United States. If so, provide the document certified by the issuing agency, not a photocopy that you made. Documents are returned to you.

Social Security benefits for a month are paid in the following month. For example, retirement benefits for January are paid in February.

Based in Grand Forks, Howard I. Kossover is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Send general interest questions to him at Read his online articles at