Social Security Expands Its Online Benefit Application to Include Spouse's Benefits
- The Social Security Administration (SSA) has expanded its
online Benefit Application,
the online application that has allowed users to apply for Social
Security Retirement benefits since November 2000, to include
the ability to apply for Social Security Spouse's benefits.
- Effective April 2001, wives and husbands of individuals applying
for retirement benefits may also apply for spouse's benefits online.
- By completing one application, an individual can apply for
their own retirement benefit, or a spouse's benefit or, if eligible
for both, their own retirement benefit and their benefit as
the spouse of a retired worker.
- Approximately 700,000 people apply for spouse's benefits
- Approximately 47 percent of those who apply for spouse's
benefits are also eligible for a retirement benefit based
on their own work. By using the Internet application process,
these individuals will only need to complete and sign one
application for both benefits.
- The Internet application allows individuals to apply for
their retirement and spouse's benefits at their convenience.
- Interested individuals can now apply for Social Security retirement
and spouse's benefits online at www.ssa.gov
-- Social Security Online -- Social Security's
Internet site; or
- To use this service, people must be 61 years and nine months
or older and plan to start receiving benefits within four
months. SSA advises people to file for benefits three months before
they want their benefits to begin.
- Applicants must meet certain criteria to apply for benefits
using the online application:
- They must also reside in the United States or one of its territories,
- Have a working printer connected to their computer, and
- Agree to receive their benefits by direct deposit.
- Individuals who are currently receiving Social Security benefits
or have already applied for retirement or disability benefits
with Social Security will not be able to use the online service.
- Answers to several screening questions will determine whether
or not a person can proceed and file for retirement and/or spouse's
benefits over the Internet. Those who meet the conditions are
presented with information describing the application process
and then move on to the actual application. Various online screens
will be presented and individuals are asked to answer a number
of questions as they navigate through the online application.
- The answers provided on the screens are used by SSA to make
an entitlement determination on an individual's claim for Social
Security Retirement and/or Spouse's Benefits.
- Upon completion of the online application, a person's application
is electronically sent to SSA. At this point, individuals must
print the application, sign it, and mail or bring it to the address
provided by SSA.
Along with the signed application, applicants must also submit
any applicable documentation needed to process their claim,
- Birth certificate
- W-2 forms or self-employment tax return for last year
- Military discharge papers (if there is military service)
A Claim Confirmation Number is provided to every applicant.
The confirmation number can be used to:
- Update an application that has not been finished;
- Check on the status of the application once it has been
sent to SSA; and
- Register a password with SSA to do additional business online
in the future.