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How to Apply For Social Security Benefits
From your U.S. Gov Info/Resources Guide

You can apply for Social Security retirement benefits over the phone or in person. Here's how to apply and what you'll need when you do.

Difficulty Level: Average    Time Required: 1 hour

Here's How:
  1. Call Social Security at toll-free 1-800-772-1213. They will make an appointment to take your application over the phone or at your closest Social Security office.
  2. The deaf or hard of hearing can call their TTY number: 1-800-325-0778, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday - Friday
  3. The following information will be required when you apply:
  4. Your Social Security number
  5. Your birth certificate
  6. Your W-2 form or self-employment tax return for last year
  7. Your military discharge papers, if applicable
  8. Your spouse's Social Security number and birth certificate if he or she is applying, as well
  9. Your children's Social Security number(s) and birth certificate(s), if applying for children's benefits
  10. Proof of US citizenship or lawful alien status, ONLY IF you were not born in the U.S.
  11. Name of your bank and account number for direct deposit of benefits
  12. Submit original documents or copies certified by the issuing office. All documents will be returned to you.
  13. Benefits should start with the first full month after you reach age 62 or 65. (See Related Features for more details.)
  14. View Related Features (below) for more information.


  1. Even if you plan to continue working, you should still sign-up for Medicare 3 months before age 65.
  2. Social Security can send you a "Social Security Statement" showing your estimated future benefits and how to apply for them. (See Related Features for more details.)
  3. Time Required depends on availability of your required proof of identification and other documents.

Related Information:

More How To's from your Guide to U.S. Gov Info/Resources

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