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What Do You Need To Apply For Social Security Benefits

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Restricted Applications And Widow Benefits

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

According to the SSA in section GN 00204.020E.4.a:

A widow or surviving divorced spouse may wish to exclude a reduced RIB from the scope of the application and defer filing for an unreduced RIB because of the benefit increases payable after FRA because of DRCs.

To exclude a reduced RIB, the Social Security office needs a statement on the application. For instance, it could say: I do not wish this application to be considered an application for reduced benefits on my own record.

This means if your spouse or ex-spouse is deceased, you may be eligible for a widow’s benefit on their earnings record. You would have greater leeway to restrict the scope of your application, even if you have not yet reached FRA. It doesn’t matter when you were born.

You might do this to claim a widow benefit for several years; at the same time, you could allow your own benefit to continue to accumulate delayed retirement credits. At age 70, you could then switch over and claim your own benefit amount.

Getting A Social Security Number For A New Baby

The easiest way to get a Social Security number for your child is at the hospital after they are born when you apply for your childs birth certificate. If you wait to apply for a number at a Social Security office, there may be delays while SSA verifies your childs birth certificate.

;Your child will need their own Social Security number so you can:

  • Claim your child as a dependent on your income tax return
  • Open a bank account in their name
  • Get medical coverage for them
  • Apply for government services for them

Keep your Social Security card in a safe place to protect yourself from identity theft.;

How Much Can You Expect To Get

Your Social Security retirement benefit payment is based on how much you made during your working years. The more you earned, the more you’ll get when you retire.

Your Social Security retirement benefit payment is also affected by the age at which you decide to retire. You can retire as early as age 62, but if you retire before your full retirement age, your benefits will be permanently reduced, based on your age. For example, if you retire at age 62, your benefit would be about 25 percent lower than what it would be if you waited until you reach full retirement age.

You also need to remember that monthly premiums for Medicare Part B are usually deducted from monthly Social Security benefits. Retirement is a great time to look into the pros and cons of a private Medicare Advantage plan.;

Retirement benefits are based on the recipients lifetime earnings in work in which they paid Social Security taxes. Higher income translates to a bigger benefit, up to a point. The amount to which retirees are entitled is modified by other factors, most crucially the age at which they first claim benefits.;

For reference, the estimated average Social Security retirement benefit in 2021 is $1,543 a month. The maximum benefitthe most an individual retiree can getis $3,148 a month for someone who files for Social Security in 2021 at their full retirement age.

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What Bearing Does When I Apply For My Social Security Benefits Have On My Spouse

A lot, actually. Thats because of the spousal benefit allowed by the government. If both members of a couple apply for Social Security at full retirement age, the lower-earning spouse could be entitled to significant extra benefits based on the earnings of his or her partner. The timing of when both parties file is crucial.

Joseph Gutheinz, an attorney in Friendswood, Texas, shared his experience.

My wife and I are presently filing for our Social Security retirement benefits, effective October 2021, when I turn 66 years old and 2 months, he said. It would have been a financial mistake to file for retirement when I turned 62, as we both would have qualified for only a portion of our full retirement and that would be a lifelong limitation. Retiring at 70 sounds great, as my retirement would continue to grow by 8% per year until I reached 70, but after I qualified for full retirement, my wifes retirement will be frozen and limited to 50% of my retirement at that time. So, it was a no-brainer. We both filed for Social Security retirement when I first qualified for full retirement and come November 1, 2021, we will receive our first payments to our bank accounts.

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Social Security Disability Benefits

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The definition of disabled held by the SSA is quite strict. You only qualify for Social Security disability benefits if you are severely disabled with a condition that entirely prevents your workingand is expected to last a year or longer or result in your death.

You also must have earned enough credits to receive payments. If you are at least age 62, you will need to have earned the full 40 credits to qualify for disability payments. Younger applicants require fewer credits, down to a minimum of six credits for those younger than 24. You also need to have been working when the disability began. Your spouse and children may qualify for benefits as well, potentially receiving up to half of the amount to which you are entitled each month.

If approved, then your disability benefits will begin six months after the date when your disability began. Payments are based on your lifetime earnings.

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Corrected Card For A Noncitizen Child

If you legally change your child’s name because of adoption, court order or any other reason, you need to tell Social Security. If your child is working, also tell your child’s employer. If you do not tell us when your child’s name changes, it may:

  • Delay your tax refund or your child’s refund; and
  • Prevent your child’s wages from being posted correctly to your child’s Social Security record, which may lower the amount of your child’s future Social Security benefits.


You must present original documents or copies certified by the agency that issued them. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies. All documents must be current . We cannot accept a receipt showing you applied for the document.

Replacement Card For A Noncitizen Child

You can replace your child’s Social Security card for free if it is lost or stolen. You are limited to three replacement cards in a year and 10 during a lifetime. Legal name changes and other exceptions do not count toward these limits. For example, changes in immigration status that require card updates may not count toward these limits. Also, you may not be affected by these limits if you can prove you need the card to prevent a significant hardship.

In general, only noncitizens who have permission to work from the Department of Homeland Security can apply for a Social Security number. If your child does not have permission to work but needs a Social Security number for other purposes, see “If your child does not have permission to work” for further information.


You must present original documents or copies certified by the agency that issued them. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies. All documents must be current . We cannot accept a receipt showing you applied for the document.

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Apply For Benefits Online

You should apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. Follow these easy steps to apply online for disability:

  • To start your application, go to our Apply for Benefits page, and read and agree to the Terms of Service. Click Next.
  • On that page, review the Getting Ready section to make sure you have the information you need to apply.
  • Select Start A New Application.
  • We will ask a few questions about who is filling out the application.
  • You will then sign into your mySocial Security account, or you will be prompted to create one.
  • Complete the application.

You can use the online application to apply for disability benefits if you:

  • Are age 18 or older.
  • Are not currently receiving benefits on your own Social Security record.
  • Are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death; and
  • Have not been denied for disability in the last 60 days.
  • Note: If your application was recently denied, our application is a starting point to request a review of the determination we made.

You may be able to file online for SSI at the same time that you file for SSDI benefits. Once you complete the online process above, a Social Security representative will contact you if we need additional information.

Records Pertaining To Spouses

How many credits do you need to qualify for the Social Security Benefits?

If you plan to apply for spousal benefits from the Social Security Administration, there will be specific documents that need to be submitted. You will need to show that you are married before anything else. This can often be done through the use of your birth certificate, a photo ID, and a marriage license.;

Those who have lost their marriage license can ask for a replacement to meet these requirements. Get in touch with the register of deeds in the county where your marriage took place. If you plan to apply for spousal benefits from an ex-spouse, you will need to have access to the appropriate divorce records. If these arent available, replacements can be provided from the county offices where the divorce occurred.

For individuals applying for Social Security survivor benefits, you will need to show a copy of your spouses death certificate. You will also need to provide this persons Social Security number. If you do not have the death certificate in your possession, the vital records office in the county of the death can provide you with one.

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If You Work While Getting Social Security

Yes, you can work full or part-time while also getting Social Security retirement benefits. However, if you have not yet reached your full retirement age, and if your net income from working is higher than the annual earnings limit, your annual benefits will be reduced. Beginning in the month you reach full retirement age, Social Security will stop reducing your benefits no matter how much you earn.

During any full calendar year in which you are under full retirement age, Social Security deducts $1 from your benefit payments for every $2 you earn above the annual net income limit. The income limit changes every year. In 2017, the income limit was $16,920.;

At What Age Is Social Security No Longer Taxed

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.

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A Restricted Application Limits Your Benefit Type

In many cases, a restricted application allows you to later apply for other benefits types. Take a look at why you might use this rule and some of the things you may be eligible for:

  • A benefit based on your own earnings record; this is known as a “retirement insurance benefit” .
  • A benefit based on a spouse or ex-spouses earnings record; this is known as a “spouses insurance benefit” .
  • A benefit based on a deceased spouse or ex-spouses earnings record; this is known as a “widow’s insurance benefit” .
  • A benefit if you are disabled; this is known as a “disability insurance benefit.” .

You can use a restricted application to claim a spousal benefit while letting your benefit continue to grow if:

  • You;were born on or before January 1, 1954.
  • You are currently married; or, you are divorced .
  • You’ve reached full retirement age and have not yet claimed your own benefits.

What if your benefit is higher than the spousal benefit? You can simply switch to your benefit amount when you reach age 70.

The Disability Application Process

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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.

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Original Card For A Foreign Born Us Citizen Adopted Child


You must present original documents or copies certified by the agency that issued them. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies. All documents must be current . We cannot accept a receipt showing you applied for the document.


In some cases, we can assign your adopted child a number before the adoption is complete, but you may want to wait. Then, you can apply for the number using your child’s new name. If you want to claim your child for tax purposes while the adoption is still pending, contact the Internal Revenue Service for Form W-7A, Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions. For more information, see Social Security Numbers For Children .

Benefits For Your Spouse Or Common


If you are eligible to receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement, your spouse or common-law partner may be able to receive the Allowance if your spouse or common-law partner:

  • is 60 to 64 years of age
  • is a Canadian citizen or a legal resident
  • resides in Canada and has resided in Canada for at least 10 years since the age of 18
  • your combined annual income is less than $35,136

Allowance for the Survivor

You could receive the Allowance for the Survivor if:

  • you are 60 to 64 years of age
  • your spouse or common-law partner has died and you have not remarried or entered into a common-law relationship
  • your annual income is less than $25,560

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Documents You Need To Submit To The Social Security Office

Regardless of how you choose to apply for SS, there are certain documents you need to submit along with your application. These include:

  • Your Social Security card or your SSN.
  • Tax documents from the previous year, such as a W-2 form.
  • Proof that you are a U.S. citizen or a lawfully-present immigrant.
  • Your birth certificate or equivalent documentation.
  • Military discharge papers, if you served before 1968.

If you do not have these documents needed to apply for Social Security retirement benefits, you may still be able to apply. However, you must contact your Social Security office and speak with a program official. He or she should be able to help you obtain the supporting documents you need to complete your application.

Who Is Eligible For Social Security Retirement Benefits

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The U.S. Congress passed the 1935 Social Security Act as a way to supplement retirement earnings for primary working Americans. The original law also included the nations first unemployment insurance program as well as several health and welfare programs. Shortly thereafter, the law was changed to add survivor benefits for spouses and children, and in 1956 disability benefits were also added.

The Social Security Administration now serves 60 million Americans who will receive $870 billion in benefits in 2015.

The administration of such a large benefits program can be complicated at times, with numerous special instances, exceptions and nuances that can impact how benefits are disbursed to recipients.

This guide will introduce applicants to the basics of applying for Social Security retirement benefits and answer many of the common questions that arise when first considering to apply for benefits.

It will also address many special circumstances that can arise involving spouses and children, specific circumstances regarding timing, amounts, and maximizing benefits while also offering a comprehensive list of resources that may prove valuable throughout the Social Security retirement benefits process.

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When To Get Started With Your Application

Keep in mind that even if you are working on getting all the documents you need for your application, you can still begin the application process. The timing of the application can have an impact on how much you receive in benefits. For example, waiting until the full retirement age to apply will allow you to receive full benefits. Filing before this age can lead to a decrease in your monthly payment amount.

If your full retirement age is 67, but you choose to receive benefits starting at 62, you could receive up to 30% less in monthly payments. Those who wait will receive larger payments and that amount will grow until you reach the age of 70.;

However, remember that starting the process to get retirement benefits doesnt mean they will come immediately. Its recommended that you apply for benefits no later than two months before you want to start getting payments. All SSA retirement benefits are set up to be paid for the month prior. So, someone who applies in March might start getting benefits in April but wont be paid the amount until May.

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