Applying for Social Security Benefits

Online Application

You can apply for Social Security retirement benefits on the Internet at www.ssa.gov, the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) website.  You will fill out the online application and send it electronically to SSA.  When you complete the online application, you will sign it electronically by selecting "Sign now".  You will receive an online receipt with the address of your local Social Security office.  Your receipt will also tell you how to check the status of your application.  In some situations, the SSA will request additional documents, which can be either mailed or taken to your local SSA office. 

TIP from the editor:  If SSA requests an original of your birth certificate, it is best to take it to Social Security to have it copied rather than mailing it.  If you have a certified copy, you may wish to mail it.  Always keep a copy and note the date the document was sent to the SSA.

The electronic application is stored in a secure database and reviewed by SSA upon receipt.  The Social Security Administration uses the strongest commercially available encryption to ensure that an applicant’s confidential information is secure as it travels over the Internet.

If you are interested, click here to learn more about applying for benefits online; view a video demonstration on how to apply online; or complete your online application for retirement benefits. 

Phone Application

Optionally, you can apply for Social Security retirement or survivor benefits by calling the SSA's national toll-free number 1-800-772-1213 or TTY number 1-800-325-0778.  You may be able to file directly over the phone without having to make an appointment or visit an office.  To file an immediate claim, individuals should have certain documents handy when calling such as their birth certificate, their most recent W-2 form or tax return and bank account information.

Personal Application

If you want to apply in person, you can call SSA’s national toll-free number 1-800-772-1213 or TTY number 1-800-325-0778 to schedule a phone interview or a face-to-face interview at your local SSA office.

Is this legal advice?

This site offers legal information, not legal advice.  We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options.  However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.  The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site.  In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – www.peoples-law.org. © Maryland State Law Library, 2014.”