Planning for financial independence at retirement can be illustrated by a three-legged stool. For a strong sturdy stool, you need three equal legs. These financial legs represent benefits provided by the government, benefits provided by your employer, and your own savings and investments. How do you manage all three so that, when your days of regular work paychecks come to an end, you land in the black? Social Security, your Defined Benefit pension plan and other personal savings and investments make up the three legs of the financial planning stool.
Social Security is more than just a retirement program. Along with retirement benefits, it also provides benefits if you become severely disabled and can help support your family when you die. Benefits are based on years of work and average salary, and Social Security provides monthly income for life. You should receive a statement of your benefits each year. Visit ssa.gov/mystatement or call (800) 772-1213 for more information. Social Security benefits are not intended to be the only source of income when you retire, but should be considered a foundation on which to build your financial future.
Are you considering retirement? We have provided some details regarding what you’ll need to get started and other information. When you apply for benefits, you will need to have the following information:
- Your social security number
- Your birth certificate
- Your W-2 forms or self-employment tax return for last year
- Your military discharge papers if you had military service
- Your spouse’s birth certificate and social security number if he or she is applying for benefits
- Your children’s birth certificates and social security numbers if applying for children’s benefits
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if you (or a spouse or child is applying for benefits) were not born in the U.S.
- The name of your bank and your account number so your benefits can be directly deposited to into your account.
You will need to submit original documents or copies certified by the issuing office. You can mail or bring them to Social Security. They will make photocopies and return your documents. If you do not have a birth certificate, you may request one from the State where you were born.
For other helpful information from Social Security, visit ssa.gov.