Millions now apply for Social Security online

For millions of people across America, the concept of retirement has changed significantly.

Retirees live healthier, work longer and play harder. It’s the new normal.

Even the momentous act of applying for retirement benefits — which used to require a visit to the Social Security office — has become more convenient, easier and faster for busy “retirees.”

Thinking about applying for your benefits? Begin at Social Security’s website —

. It offers a wealth of services, information and tools to help you plan for a better retirement, according to a news release. When you are ready, you can apply for benefits online, from home. No appointment, no travel to a busy government office, no worry that you’ve brought all the right paperwork.

The online retirement application is easy to use. In most cases, it will take you less than 15 minutes to complete, the release stated. You also can save your unfinished work at any point and finish later. Social Security will process your application and contact you if any further information is needed.

Before you apply, you need to consider several factors. For people born in 1938 or later, “full retirement age” gradually has increased. For people born after 1959, it is age 67.

You can apply for reduced benefits as early as age 62. You should consider whether you want to work in retirement, health issues, your family’s monetary needs and future financial obligations. Social Security offers several online tools to help you explore your retirement options.

Regardless of your age, advantages of creating a personal Social Security account include complete access to your personal information, such as your lifetime earnings and estimated retirement, disability and survivor’s benefits for you and your family.

More than 7 million people have chosen to retire the fast, convenient and stress-free way — online. In fact, last year, almost 50 percent retired online, the release stated.