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Apply now to get SSA benefits in early 2013

Q: I expect to start Social Security retirement in early 2013. When should I apply?

A: Apply now to start your Social Security in early 2013. You can apply for retirement benefits when you are at least 61 years and 9 months of age and want your benefits to start in the next three months.

Retirement applications cannot be processed more than four months in advance.

If you meet all require-ments and are at least age 62 throughout the entire month, you can start Social Security retirement effective with any month of the year.

You do not have to start in your birthday month. There is no rule saying you must start Social Security retirement immediately upon stopping work. You might decide to delay starting benefits in favor of waiting for a higher amount.

Information and calculators to help your planning are at the Social Security Retirement Planner, http://www.socialsecuri What is best for you? Age is just one factor to consider. See others at

Use of the online retire-ment application is popular, representing just over 45 percent of all Social Security retirement applications received nationally from January through early November 2012. Applications completed online are reviewed, usually by your local office, and you are contacted if needed.

Did You Know? Is your family expecting a New Year's baby? Need a name? Visit the Social Security Administration top baby names site, babynames.

Each year near Mother's Day, Social Security announces the most popular baby names of the preceding year for the nation and individual states. You can even see how the popularity of a name changes over time. In 2011, Jacob and Sophia were the most popular baby names nationally.

Request a Social Security number for your new baby at the hospital as part of the birth certificate registration.

This very popular method is faster and easier than waiting to apply directly with a Social Security office.

See Social Security Numbers for Children, at

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