How to apply for social security

Eligibility Requirements for Retirement Benefits

  • You must be 61 years and 9 months old.
  • You must not have applied for retirement benefits before this.
  • You must not be currently receiving Social Security benefits.
  • You must be at least 4 months out from the time you expect your benefits to start.

If your condition is keeping you from working and earning a livable wage, you should probably file for disability. If you are currently working full-time, but your condition is getting worse, then you should file for disability as soon as your earnings drop below the earnings limit for SSD benefits and SSI benefits.

Disability benefits can pay up to $2700/month, depending on your work history and disability condition. You can also qualify for a lump sum of money owed to you. See how much you may be able to collect – get a 100% free evaluation now!

Find Out if You Can Get Disability

How to File an Application for Social Security Retirement Benefits

  • In person: You will need an appointment in order to apply in person for your Social Security benefits. You will need to find and contact your local SSA office to make an appointment. Call 800-772-1213 to find the local office. You can also find your local office online at .
  • By phone: There are very specific hours when you can apply by phone. These hours are Monday through Friday Eastern Time from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 800-772-1213 and TTY 800-325-0778. It is best to call at the least busy times – at the end of the day, at the end of the week, and at the end of the month.
  • Online: You can apply for Social Security benefits online anytime you choose – 24 hours a day/7 days a week. This is in fact the easiest way to do so, but be aware that you may not be able to apply for all your benefits online. You can always start your application online just by going to You might, however, need to complete the application either in-person or on the phone. The online system will tell you how to proceed.
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What You Need for Retirement Benefits

Here are the documents you will need when applying for Social Security Benefits:

  • Proof of citizenship in the United States or proof of lawful permanent resident status if born outside the U.S.
  • You need your original birth certificate, not a copy. If you do not have an original, you can include a copy that is certified by the hospital or agency that issued the original one.
  • A copy of your W-2 form for the current/previous year or if you were self-employed, a copy of last year’s tax return.
  • If you served in the military before 1968 – a copy of your DD-214 Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.

You will also need to provide your recent earnings, eligibility for a federal pension, marital history, and whether other family members can claim any benefits on your record.

Applying for Survivor Benefits

  • You must apply in person or by phone, not online.
  • You must provide the Social Security number of the deceased.
  • Your Social Security number and the Social Security number of any dependent children of the deceased.
  • Your birth certificate or religious record of birth.
  • Your marriage certificate or divorce decree.
  • Death certificate of deceased.
  • Record of earnings of the deceased in the form of W-2s or tax returns.
  • Apply the same month the retiree or covered worker dies.
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