The most important advice is to access the Social Security website and get their most current official guidance on how to apply.

Note that you can apply online, by phone, or in person, and that you should apply for benefits no more than four months before the date you want your benefits to start.

Our software calculates the maximized filing strategy for you based on your earnings history and your status as married, single, widowed, disabled, etc.

As you apply for those benefits, be sure to use your entitlement month, i.e. the month you start earning Social Security benefits, on your application. If you're following the maximized strategy, these are listed as the Maximized Filing Dates. If you're instead following the strategy you modeled, these are the filing dates you entered in the What-If Dates for Your Plan panel on the Report Set Up screen. Since Social Security pays benefits one month in arrears, you will receive your check one month after the entitlement month. For example, if our software calculates that you file for retirement benefits in 12/2023, you will receive your first retirement benefit check in 1/2024.

Be careful to start your entitlement in your desired month, i.e. neither too early nor too late. Social Security encourages you to apply 3 to 4 months before you want to start your entitlement. So in the above example, if you apply in 9/2023, be sure to establish your entitlement month as 12/2023.