What is the Handbook?

The Social Security Handbook includes the provisions of the Social Security Act (the Act), regulations issued under the Act, and precedential case decisions (rulings). It is one of numerous publications about the Social Security programs. It is a readable, easy to understand resource for the very complex Social Security programs and services.

The Social Security programs are so complex it is impossible to include information about every topic. However, we have included what we believe is the most common and helpful information. In case of a conflict between the contents of the Handbook and the Act, Regulations, and Rulings, the latter take precedence.

Information about benefit programs administered by other agencies can be found at .

Is the Social Security Handbook Available in Paper Format?

No. The Social Security Handbook is no longer available in paper format; it is available online at: Social Security.

How Up-To-Date Is This Information?

We are committed to keeping you informed of your rights and obligations under the Social Security laws. We try to update the Handbook content on an ongoing basis as changes occur but no less often than every six (6) months in January and July.

Do You Need More Information?

You may obtain clarification or assistance on Social Security matters at our website Social Security, any Social Security office or by calling our toll-free telephone number, 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 for the hearing impaired.

Also, you can obtain a summary guide about employment supports for persons with disabilities under the Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income Programs at our website:  The Red Book - A Guide to Work Incentives.

Compilation of the Social Security Laws

This is a two-volume set published biennially, following the end of each congressional session. Volume I contains the Act, as amended and selected provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. Volume II contains the Appendixes of the Act, and provisions of public laws and statutes cited in the Act. It also includes other provisions of the Internal Revenue Code and public laws, which affect the administration of the Social Security Act but do not amend it.

Code of Federal Regulations

This publication includes sections under Title 20, Chapter III, which cover regulations on Federal retirement, survivors, disability insurance, supplemental security income for the aged, blind, disabled, and black lung programs. Sections under Title 42, Chapter IV, cover regulations on health insurance. The Code of Federal Regulations is compiled periodically. New regulations and amendments to regulations are published in the Federal Register.


Social Security Rulings and Acquiescence Rulings on retirement, survivors, disability insurance, supplemental security income are published on a flow basis and may be purchased individually or by annual subscription.

Your Comments are Welcome!

We would appreciate hearing your views about this Handbook. Please mail your comments to:

Social Security Administration
Social Security Handbook Staff
1740 RRCC
6401 Security Boulevard
Baltimore, Maryland 21235-6401


According to 42 U.S.C. § 1320b-10, no person may, for a fee, reproduce, reprint, or distribute any item consisting of a form, application, or other publication of the Social Security Administration unless such person has obtained specific, written authorization for such activity in accordance with regulations which the Secretary shall prescribe. Any violation of this prohibition is subject to penalties prescribed by 42 U.S.C. § 1320b-10.