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How Do I Apply For Social Security Benefits

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The Disability Application Process

How To Apply For Social Security Benefits: What You Need To Know

Whether you apply online, by phone, or in person, the disability benefits application process follows these general steps:

  • You gather the information and documents you need to apply. We recommend you print and review the . It will help you gather the information you need to complete the application.
  • You complete and submit your application.
  • We review your application to make sure you meet some for disability benefits.
  • We check whether you worked enough years to qualify.
  • We evaluate any current work activities.
  • We process your application and forward your case to the Disability Determination Services office in your state.
  • This State agency makes the disability determination decision.

To learn more about who decides if you are disabled, read our publication .

Once You’ve Applied

Once we receive your application, well review it and contact you if we have questions. We might request additional documents from you before we can proceed

Look For Our Response

Youll receive a letter in the mail with our decision. If you included information about other family members when you applied, well let you know if they may be able to receive benefits on your record.

Check The Status

You can check the status of your application online using your personal mySocial Security account. If you are unable to check your status online, you can call us 1-800-772-1213 from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Appeal A Decision

  • Reconsideration.

Documents You May Need To Provide

We may ask you to provide documents to show that you are eligible, such as:

  • Birth certificate or other proof of birth
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if you were not born in the United States
  • U.S. military discharge paper if you had military service before 1968
  • W-2 forms and/or self-employment tax returns for last year.
  • Final divorce decree, if applying as a divorced spouse and


We accept photocopies of W-2 forms, self-employment tax returns or medical documents, but we must see the original of most other documents, such as your birth certificate.

Do not delay applying for benefits because you do not have all the documents. We will help you get them.

Documents You Need To Apply

Please select the benefit you will be applying for from the list below to see what information and documents you may need when you apply:

    If you don’t have all the documents you need, don’t delay applying for Social Security benefits.

    In many cases, your local Social Security office can contact your state Bureau of Vital Statistics and verify your information online at no cost to you. If we can’t verify your information online, we can still help you get the information you need.

    Mailing Your Documents

    If you mail any documents to us, you must include the Social Security number so that we can match them with the correct application. Do not write anything on the original documents. Please write the Social Security number on a separate sheet of paper and include it in the mailing envelope along with the documents.

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    Can I Work And Receive My Retirement Benefits

    The answer is yes but not a lot. There are limits on how much you can earn in any month and receive your full retirement benefits. If you are not at full retirement age of 65 and you earn more than allowed in a year, SSA will reduce your Social Security Benefit by the total amount of your earnings. Once you reach full retirement age, you may earn any amount and your benefits will not be reduced.

    Required Information About Your Present And Past Employment

    Tips on Applying for Social Security Benefits

    In addition to providing a wide range of information about yourself, you will also need to know numerous things about your employment history for your retirement benefits application. When applying, you will need to disclose who you worked for over the last two years and where those businesses are located. The amount of money that you earned over the last two years will also be required.

    Other information regarding employment that is required to apply for benefits includes either a record of your earnings or a copy of your Social Security Statement. Individuals who dont have a copy of the statement can get one online by creating an account with the SSA. Other factors that will need to be disclosed on the application include:

    • The dates you started and ended U.S. military service before 1968 if applicable
    • Whether you or your spouse have even been employed with the railroad industry
    • Whether youve been unable to work at any point in the last 14 months due to injuries, illnesses, or conditions and what dates work was not possible
    • Whether you have received any Social Security credits in another country under its system
    • Whether you expect to get or qualify for an annuity or pension from your employment under the Federal government or a state or local subdivision

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    If Health Problems Force You To Retire Early

    Sometimes health problems force people to retire early. If you cannot work because of health problems, you should consider applying for Social Security disability benefits. The amount of the disability benefit is the same as a full, unreduced retirement benefit. If you are receiving Social Security disability benefits when you reach full retirement age, those benefits will be converted to retirement benefits.

    Information About Family Members

    • Social Security numbers and proof of age for each family member who may qualify for benefits and
    • Proof of marriage, if your spouse is applying for benefits, as well as dates of prior marriages, if applicable.

    If you don’t have all the documents you need, don’t delay filing for benefits. We will help you get the information you need.

    Read Also: When Do You Get Full Social Security

    Documents You Will Need

    Whether you apply online or in person, you will need the following information when you apply for your Social Security benefits:

    • Your Social Security number
    • Your W-2 forms or self-employment tax return for the last year you worked
    • Your military discharge papers if you served in any branch of the military

    If you choose to have your benefits paid through direct deposit, you will also need your bank’s name, your account number and your bank’s routing number as shown on the bottom of your checks.

    At What Age Is Social Security No Longer Taxed

    How Do I Apply For My Social Security Retirement Benefits Online – Documents Needed To Apply For SSI

    At 65 to 67, depending on the year of your birth, you are at full retirement age and can get full Social Security retirement benefits tax-free. However, if youre still working, part of your benefits might be subject to taxation. The IRS adds the figures for your earnings and half your Social Security benefits.

    Read Also: What You Need To Know About Social Security

    Should I Wait Until Full Retirement Age To Apply For Social Security

    Receiving Social Security at age 62 means that you will receive a reduced payment compared with waiting for full retirement age. For those born in 1960 or later, the reduction is 30%, and all reductions are permanent. If you delay taking your benefits past full retirement age, then you receive an 8% increase for each full year that you do so, up until you reach 70, at which point the increases stop.

    Every individual can calculate their own full retirement age based on their specific birthday, to consider locking in the maximum amount of Social Security benefits.

    Personal Information And Documents Needed To Apply For Social Security

    When youre filling out a Social Security retirement benefits application, youll need to provide lots of information about yourself. We already mentioned that your birthday is part of that, but it goes far beyond that. Youll also need to share your Social Security number, place of birth, and when you want to begin receiving benefits.

    Youll also need to share information about your spouse, including their name, date of birth, and Social Security number. The place and date of marriages, divorces, and deaths will also need to be disclosed, which marriage and divorce documents can help with. Those with children under 18, under 19 and still in school, or disabled children will also need to provide their names.

    Also Check: How To Find Out How Much Social Security You Get

    Social Security Disability Benefits Pay Chart 2022

    Social Security disability payments increased by 5.9% in 2022. See how much you can earn in this Social Security Disability Benefits Pay Chart guide.

    The Social Security disability benefits pay chart applies only to payments through the SSI program. It does not apply if the benefits you receive are through the Social Security Disability Insurance program.

    Also Read: Five Types of Disability. Knowing the claim type is key to understanding your SSA Award Letter.

    What Documents Do You Need To Apply For Retirement Benefits

    How Do I Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits ...

    We request different documents depending on your circumstances. You can help by being ready to provide the information and documents listed below. You can also use our Checklist For The Online Medicare, Retirement, And Spouses Application to help you gather the information you need to apply.

    Documents we may ask for include:

    • Your Social Security card or a record of your number.
    • Your original birth certificate, a copy certified by the issuing agency, or other proof of your age.We must see the original document, or copies certified by the agency that issued them. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies.
    • If you were not born in the U.S., proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status. We must see the original document, or copies certified by the agency that issued them. We cannot accept documents if they have expired. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies.
    • A copy of your U.S. military service paper if you served before 1968. A photocopy is acceptable.
    • A copy of your W-2 form and/or self-employment tax return for last year. A photocopy is acceptable.

    We will return all documents and photocopies unless specifically told otherwise.

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    Working While Collecting Social Security Retirement

    Many people choose or need, to keep working after claiming Social Security retirement benefits. However, if you continue work after claiming early retirement benefits your Social Security benefits may be reduced until you reach your full retirement age.

    If you retire at age 62, Social Security will deduct money from your retirement check if you exceed a certain amount of earned income for the calendar year. For example, the income limit in 2018 was $17,040 or $1,420 per month. The income limit increases annually. Until you reach your full retirement age, Security will reduce your benefit by $1 for every $2 you earn over the income limit. Once you reach your full retirement age, you will receive your full Social Security retirement benefit with no limitation on how much income you earn from working.

    The worse news is that Social Security does not apply the early retirement work penalty by simply deducting a small amount from each monthly benefit check. Instead, the agency may withhold several months entire checks until the total reduction is paid off. This means your annual budget will have to account for a certain number of months without a benefit check. Complete details on this decidedly complicated process can be found in Social Securitys pamphlet on How Work Affects Your Benefits. You can also use Social Securitys earnings test calculator to see how much your reduction will be and when your checks will be withheld.

    If Your Application Is Denied

    After we review your application and the information you provided, we may decide you do not meet the qualifications for disability benefits.

    If you disagree with our decision, you have the right to ask us to look at your application again. The notice you receive from us that says you don’t qualify will explain how to appeal our decision and the time period in which you must make the request.

    If we decide you don’t qualify:

    • Because you are not disabled under our rules, you can appeal our decision online.

      The online disability report will ask you for updated information about your medical condition and any treatment, tests, or doctor visits since we made our decision.

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    If You Don’t Have All Of The Documents

    Even if you don’t have everything, don’t delay applying for Social Security retirement benefits. You can provide the missing documents later. We may be able to help you get them.

    In many cases, your local Social Security office can contact your state Bureau of Vital Statistics and verify your information online at no cost to you or find other ways to get the information we need.

    If you delay signing up, you could lose some benefits you may be due.

    How Do You Apply For Social Security Survivors Benefits

    How do I apply for Social Security Disability benefits?

    If you are unable to work due to a medical condition or disability, the Social Security Administration can provide disability benefits. These benefits can help you pay medical bills and every day living expenses without making a regular income. If you are financially dependent on a worker who has died, you may be able to receive survivors benefits from the SSA to help with the costs and expenses you are left to handle.

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    Eligibility For Survivors Benefits

    If you are the widow or widower of the deceased, you may be eligible for survivors benefits under a variety of different circumstances. You can receive full benefits, for instance, when you reach your full survivor retirement age. This is between 65 and 67, depending on your birth year.

    At 60, you can receive partial survivors benefits, and at 50, you can receive full benefits if you are disabled, and have been for at least seven years before the workers death.

    You can receive full benefits at any age if you care for the workers children, who must be under 16 or disabled themselves. Also note that if you remarry after age 60, or 50 if you are disabled, the marriage will not affect your eligibility for survivors benefits from your deceased spouse.

    If you divorced the worker before their death, you are still eligible for survivors benefits under the same rules as a widow or widower, as long as you were married to the worker for ten years or more.

    For a workers child to qualify for survivors benefits, they must be unmarried and under 18 years old, or 19 if in secondary school. If the child became disabled before age 22 and is still disabled, they are eligible for benefits no matter what their age. Stepchildren, adopted children, and grandchildren may also be eligible for survivors benefits if they meet certain criteria.

    The Downside Of Early Applications

    Applying for Social Security benefits at age 62 can lower the amount of your monthly benefits by as much as 30%. This can significantly reduce the available funds you will have to enjoy your retirement. Delaying your application for Social Security, on the other hand, can have a positive impact on the amount you will receive each month in these benefits.

    The Social Security Administration has established a Full Retirement Age of between 66 and 67 for most retirees. You can see the exact amount of your earned benefits by visiting the Social Security website. This online resource can also provide information on your FRA and the impact of claiming your Social Security benefits at various stages of your journey.

    Applying for Social Security at age 62 not only affects the amount you receive in benefits. Cost-of-living adjustments, known as COLA, are based on your benefit amount, you will receive a smaller COLA increase than if you had waited until your FRA to apply for Social Security.

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    Apply For Retirement Benefits

    Starting your Social Security retirement benefits is a major step on your retirement journey. This page will guide you through the process of applying for retirement benefits when youre ready to take that step. Our online application is a convenient way to apply on your own schedule, without an appointment. You can also apply by phone or by appointment at a Social Security office.

    Applying For Social Security Benefits Online

    Can i apply for social security benefits online ...

    The first thing you will need to do to apply for benefits online is creating a Social Security account on the SSA website. This account has a lot of great features and can be used to track your earnings over your lifetime based on reports made to the SSA. When you have an account, you can check in and see if all the information is correct. If not, you can notify the SAA of the mistake and show past tax returns or pay stubs to correct the error.

    Once you have an online account and your documents are ready, you can start your retirement benefits application online. The process is simple and most people will have no issue getting through the application alone. However, your local Social Security office can provide help if its needed. You can also reach out by telephone to the SSA for help if you have issues completing your application.

    Recommended Reading: How To See How Much Social Security You Will Get

    Already Enrolled In Medicare

    If you have Medicare, you can get information and services online. Find out how to .

    If you are enrolled in Medicare Part A and you want to enroll in Part B, please complete form CMS-40B, Application for Enrollment in Medicare Part B . If you are applying for Medicare Part B due to a loss of employment or group health coverage, you will also need to complete form CMS-L564, Request for Employment Information.

    You can use one of the following options to submit your enrollment request under the Special Enrollment Period:

  • Fax or mail your CMS-40B, CMS-L564, and secondary evidence to your local Social Security office .
  • Note: When completing the forms CMS-40B and CMS-L564

    • State I want Part B coverage to begin in the remarks section of the CMS-40B form or online application.
    • If possible, your employer should complete Section B.
    • If your employer is unable to complete Section B, please complete that portion as best as you can on behalf of your employer without your employers signature and submit one of the following forms of secondary evidence:
      • Income tax form that shows health insurance premiums paid.
      • W-2s reflecting pre-tax medical contributions.
      • Pay stubs that reflect health insurance premium deductions.
      • Health insurance cards with a policy effective date.
      • Explanations of benefits paid by the GHP or LGHP.
      • Statements or receipts that reflect payment of health insurance premiums.

    Some people with limited resources and income may also be able to get .

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