Now that you know some things to consider in deciding when to start your Social Security, you may have decided that you want to apply for retirement benefits now. However, there is a limit on how far in advance you can apply for retirement or spouses benefits.

Are you currently at least 61 years and nine months of age (or older)? If your answer is:

  • "No," you cannot apply for benefits now.

    The earliest age at which you can begin receiving your Social Security retirement benefits is 62. You can apply for your benefits 3 months before you turn 62 if you want your payments to start at that age.

  • "Yes," whether you can apply for benefits now depends on when you want your benefits to start.

    Do you want your benefits to start more than four months from now?

    YES

    You cannot apply for benefits yet. The earliest date you can apply is 4 months before you want your benefits to start.

    We cannot process your application if you file for benefits more than four months in advance.

    NO

    You can go to the next step.

    Note: If you are already 62, you may be able to start your benefits in the month you apply.

    NOT SURE

    You should: