4 Reasons Americans Are Passing Up the Simplest Way to Claim Social Security

Claiming Social Security is an important life milestone. It can also take some time and effort to go through the process of filing for benefits so your retirement checks will start.

Unfortunately, recent data from the Center for Retirement Research shows many Americans are passing up the simplest approach to claiming Social Security benefits and are needlessly complicating their efforts. The data revealed that just about half of all retirees are filing for their benefits online, a number that has held steady since 2013.

There are a few key obstacles standing in the way of online claims, including the following top four reasons many people are passing up filing over the internet.

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1. Seniors are unaware of online options

According to the Center for Retirement Research, the No. 1 reason people don’t apply for benefits online is because they aren’t aware they have the option to do so.

Around 13.4% of survey respondents indicated this lack of awareness was the reason they applied for benefits either in person or via phone.

2. They’d prefer to file in person

The second-most common reason for not applying for Social Security benefits online is that respondents prefer to go to the Social Security Administration in person.

A total of 9.6% of people who applied in person or via phone indicated they did so because they’d simply rather get live support from an SSA representative rather than going through the online process on their own.

3. They’re uncomfortable putting personal information online

Discomfort with providing personal information online was the reason that 8.2% of survey respondents cited for not applying for Social Security benefits over the internet.

4. They’re uncomfortable with computers

Discomfort with computers was the fourth-most common reason for not applying for Social Security online, with 7.3% of survey respondents indicating they aren’t comfortable enough with utilizing either the computer or the internet to submit an online benefits claims.

Why claiming online could be the easiest approach for retirees

While these are valid reasons for not filing for benefits online, they demonstrate that a failure of the Social Security Administration to publicize online claiming options and make the process easier has resulted in millions of retirees passing up the simplest approach to filing for benefits.

Social Security is facing budget constraints and retiring staff members, leaving the agency struggling to meet the demand for in-person services. Many offices were also shuttered for an extended period as a result of COVID-19. These problems could lead to retirees receiving inadequate or delayed services, potentially affecting their ability to make the right benefits claiming choices.

Retirees also need to be aware that Social Security representatives may not always be able to provide them with a comprehensive understanding of their claiming options or available benefits, even if they do get in-person services. It’s up to each individual senior to take the time to optimize their Social Security claim by researching all of their filing options and the impact of their decisions about when to start benefits.

Completing their claims online could give retirees more time and flexibility to do the independent research they need to find the best filing approach — and could streamline the process of getting their benefits started, if only more seniors would embrace this process.

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