Submitted by Vonda Van Til

 Do you think you may be ready to retire and want to apply for Social Security benefits? We’re here to help you make an informed decision about when to apply for benefits based on your individual and family circumstances.

 Would it be better for you to start getting benefits early with a smaller monthly amount over a longer period? Or perhaps wait for a larger monthly payment over less time? The answer is personal and depends on several factors, such as your current and anticipated cash needs, your health, and your family history on longevity. You should consider other sources of retirement income including any plans you may have to work in retirement. Most importantly, you should study your future financial needs and obligations, and estimate your future Social Security benefit.

 The easiest way to estimate your future Social Security benefits is with a personal “my Social Security” account. You can create your free account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount. With your account, you can see how much you might receive each month based on the age you want to start receiving benefits.

 We encourage you to weigh all the factors carefully before making the crucial decision about when to begin receiving Social Security benefits. This decision affects the monthly benefit amount you will receive for the rest of your life, and may affect benefits for your survivors.

Social Security’s Retirement Portal

 Whether you’re ready to learn about, apply for, or manage your retirement benefits, our retirement portal makes it easy for you to find the information you need. How easy? You can do it from your computer, tablet, and even smartphone!

 In our retirement portal, you can:

• Get our Retirement publications

• Estimate your benefits with one of our many calculators

• Find your Full Retirement Age

• Learn about retirement benefits for a spouse and family members

 You and your loved ones can discover all of these resources at ssa.gov/benefits/retirement.

 Vonda Van Til is the public affairs specialist for West Michigan. Write her at c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov.

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