Applying for Social Security

You can apply for Social Security benefits 3 ways:

Social Security Office: Visit a local Social Security office or set an appointment beforehand to ensure a shorter wait time.

Phone: Call Social Security toll-free at 1-800-772-1213. They can answer specific questions from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.,
Monday through Friday. They can provide information by automated phone service 24 hours a day.

If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.

Online: Visit Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov and enroll online.

Information you may need to elect benefits:

  • Your Social Security number.
  • Your birth certificate.
  • Your W-2 forms or self-employment tax return for last year.
  • Your military discharge papers if you had military service.
  • Your spouse’s birth certificate and Social Security number if he or she is applying for benefits.
  • The name of your financial institution, the routing number and your account number, so your benefits can be
    deposited directly into your account. If you do not have an account at a financial institution or prefer
    receiving your benefits on a prepaid debit card you can receive a Direct Express® card. For more information,
    visit www.GoDirect.org.
  • Children’s birth certificates and Social Security numbers (if you are applying for children’s benefits).
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if you (or a spouse or child applying for benefits) were not
    born in the United States.

Social Security may require you to submit original documents or copies certified by the issuing office. You can mail
or bring them to your local Social Security office: they will make photocopies and return your documents.

Applying for Social Security online

Applying online for retirement benefits offers several advantages allowing you to start your application
immediately. You can apply from the convenience of your home, or on any computer.

The application has a “retirement estimator” that gives you personal estimates of how much your benefit will be at
different ages and different “stop work” dates. As you go through the application, you will see “More Info” links.
If you need more information at any time to answer a question, just select one of these links. When you finish your
application, you will get a receipt that you can print and keep for your records. This confirmation number can be
used to check the status of your application online after you’ve applied.

Once Social Security receives your application, they review it and contact you for clarification about your answers
or if they require any documents. A social Security representative will also let you know if they think you may be
able to receive more money on another person’s record, such as your spouse. Once they have all of the necessary
information and documents, they will process your application and send you a letter in the mail regarding the final
decision.


Download the attached document for a step by step tutorial on how to apply online.