Online Application

You can apply for Social Security retirement benefits on the Internet at, 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.


Edited by Richard Neuworth, Esq., Maryland State Bar Association, Section on Elder Law and Disability Rights

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