You can apply for benefits by calling our national toll-free service at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or by visiting your local Social Security office. An appointment is not required, but if you call ahead and schedule one, it may reduce the time you spend waiting to apply.

You can help by being ready to:

  • Provide any needed documents; and
  • Answer the questions listed below.

Documents you may need to provide

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

  • A 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 [More Info];
  • U.S. military discharge paper(s) if you had military service before 1968;
  • U.S. military discharge paper(s);
  • W-2 forms(s) and/or self-employment tax returns for last year; and
  • A death certificate for the deceased child.

Important

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

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

What we will ask you

  • Your name and Social Security number;
  • Your name at birth (if different);
  • Your deceased child's name, gender, date of birth and Social Security number;
  • Your date of birth and place of birth (State or foreign country);
  • Your deceased child's date and place of death;
  • Whether a public or religious record was made of your birth before age 5;
  • Whether you were dependent on the worker for 1/2 of your support at the time of the worker's death or at the time the worker became disabled. (If “Yes” we will ask for proof.);
  • Whether you have ever filed for Social Security benefits, Medicare or Supplemental Security Income on your behalf. (If so, we will also ask for information on whose Social Security record you applied);
  • Whether the deceased worker ever filed for Social Security benefits, Medicare or Supplemental Security Income. (If so, we will ask for information on whose Social Security record he or she applied.);
  • Depending on when the worker died, we may ask you whether he or she was unable to work because of a disabling condition. (If so, we will ask you for the date he or she became unable to work.);
  • Whether you or the worker were ever in the active military service before 1968 or ever worked for the railroad industry. (If so, we will ask you for the dates of service and whether you or the worker ever received or expect to receive a pension from a military or Federal civilian agency.);
  • Whether your spouse ever worked for the railroad industry;
  • Whether you have earned Social Security credits under another country's Social Security system;
  • Whether you have married since the worker's death. (Social Security uses this information to determine your eligibility for parents benefits.);
  • The amount of the worker's earnings in the year of death and the preceding year;
  • Whether the worker had earnings in each year since 1978;
  • The amount of your earnings for this year, last year and next year; and
  • If you are within 3 months of age 65, whether you want to enroll in Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance).

Depending on the information you provide, we may need to ask other questions.

Note

You also should have with you your checkbook or other papers that show your account number at a bank, credit union or other financial institution so you can sign up for Direct Deposit, and avoid worries about lost or stolen checks and mail delays.