How To File for Social Security Benefits

How to Apply

You can file for Retirement or Spousal Benefits online! You may also start your disability claim online. There is no need to wait for an appointment.

You also can apply in person, or:

  • Call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday to make an appointment; or
  • Contact your local Social Security office

If you need an interpreter to conduct Social Security business, we will supply one on request, free of charge. If you want us to supply the interpreter, please call us before you come to the office and tell us what language you prefer to speak.

When to Apply

Social Security Retirement - You may apply 3 months before you turn age 62 or 4 months before you want your benefits to start.

Social Security Disability – You should apply as soon as possible after the onset of your disability. Social Security disability benefits can be paid only after you have been disabled continuously throughout a period of five full calendar months, beginning with the sixth full month after the date your disability began.  You are not entitled to benefits for any month in the waiting period.

Social Security Survivor Benefits – You should apply as soon as possible after learning of a death. How you sign up for survivors benefits depends on whether or not you are getting other Social Security benefits at the time you apply.

Information Needed

We may ask you to provide documents to show that you are eligible for benefits.  Don't delay applying if you don't have everything. We will help you get the information you need. We need either original documents or copies certified by the agency that issued them. Your documents will be returned to you after we have reviewed them.

You may visit the National Center for Health Statistics Web Site for information on where to write for vital records (i.e., birth and death and marriage certificates, divorce records) and the cost.