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Open Government Initiative
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Social Security Administration (SSA) Monthly Data for
Retirement Insurance Applications Filed via the Internet

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This dataset contains data for fiscal years 2012 onward and is currently available in the following formats:

This dataset includes data from the extra 53rd workload reporting week in fiscal year 2016. See explanation below in the Notes section.

Note: Data for FY 2008-2011 is contained in another dataset, Retirement Insurance Applications Filed via the Internet - FY 2008 - FY 2011.


The SSA is part of the retirement plan of almost every American worker. More than 41 million retired workers receive Social Security Retirement Insurance (SSRI) benefits and the number of retirement applications is projected to increase dramatically over the next 20 years.

Our goal is to offer online retirement services that are convenient and easy to use in addition to continuing to provide services over the phone and in our offices for those people who want or need to conduct business with us in ways that are more traditional. To file a retirement application via the internet, we estimate that it will take between 10 and 30 minutes to read the instructions, gather the facts, and answer the questions, but this will depend on the number of questions you need to answer. The average time is approximately 15 minutes.

In FY 2012, we expanded access to our internet services by launching additional Spanish language services, including a Spanish language online application for retirement benefits. Also starting in FY 2012, claimants outside the United States can file online retirement applications.

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Agency Program Description

The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers the Old-Age, Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund. The OASI Trust Fund is a separate account in the United States Treasury. A fixed proportion (dependent on the allocation of tax rates by trust fund) of the taxes received under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act and the Self-Employment Contributions Act is deposited in the fund to the extent that such taxes are not needed immediately to pay expenses. Taxes are deposited in the fund on every business day.

The trust fund provides automatic spending authority to pay monthly benefits to retired-worker (old-age) beneficiaries and their spouses and children and to survivors of deceased insured workers. With such spending authority, the Social Security Administration does not need to periodically request money from the Congress to pay benefits. Under OASI, monthly benefits are paid to retired workers and their families, and to survivors of deceased workers. The full retirement age (also called “normal retirement age”) had been 65 for many years. However, the 1983 Social Security Amendments included a provision for raising the full retirement age beginning with people born in 1938 or later. The 1983 Amendments phased in a gradual increase in the age for collecting full Social Security retirement benefits. The retirement age is increasing from 65 to 67 over a 22-year period, with an 11-year hiatus at which the retirement age will remain at 66. The Congress cited improvements in the health of older people and increases in average life expectancy as primary reasons for increasing the normal retirement age. Since the program first began paying monthly Social Security benefits in 1940 the average life expectancy for men reaching age 65 has increased nearly 4 years to age 81; for women reaching age 65, their average life expectancy has increased nearly 6 years to age 84.

When you work and pay Social Security taxes, you earn “credits” toward Social Security benefits. The number of credits you need to get retirement benefits depends on when you were born. If you were born in 1929 or later, you need 40 credits (10 years of work). If you stop working before you have enough credits to qualify for benefits, the credits will remain on your Social Security record. If you return to work later on, you can add more credits so that you qualify. No retirement benefits can be paid until you have the required number of credits.

Your benefit payment is based on how much you earned during your working career. Higher lifetime earnings result in higher benefits. If there were some years when you did not work or had low earnings, your benefit amount may be lower than if you had worked steadily. Your benefit payment is also affected by the age at which you decide to retire. If you retire at age 62 (the earliest possible retirement age for Social Security), your benefit will be lower than if you wait until later to retire.

The “primary insurance amount” (PIA) is payable at the normal retirement age; maximum benefits are payable at age 70. The PIA is the benefit (before rounding down to next lower whole dollar) a person would receive if he/she elects to begin receiving retirement benefits at his/her normal retirement age. At this age, the benefit is neither reduced for early retirement nor increased for delayed retirement.

To read a description of the SSA’s retirement insurance program, go to Retirement Benefits.

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  • A Federal Fiscal Year (FY) is the 12-month period from October 1st through September 30th. Most years our fiscal year workload reports contain 52 weeks since we include only full weeks, rather than cut off in the middle of a week. Every few years the reporting period is 53 weeks when we apply the end of week cutoff. Fiscal Year 2016 is a 53-week year for our workload reports.
  • We provide both counts since the 52-week data may be more appropriate for comparing 2016 to prior years that were 52-week reporting periods. This would be particularly relevant for looking at receipts and clearances, for example. The 53-week data may be more relevant for viewing the end of year status of workloads, especially pending cases, and it represents the efforts achieved with the entire year’s resources.

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Dataset Description

This dataset provides monthly data at the national level for federal fiscal years 2012 and onward of Social Security Retirement Insurance applications filed via the Internet and Social Security Retirement Insurance applications submitted via telephone, in person through a local SSA field office, or by mail which could have been filed via the Internet. The percentage of online applications is derived by dividing the number of retirement insurance applications filed via the Internet by the total number of retirement insurance applications which could have been filed via the Internet.

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Data Collection Description

SSA’s Online Retirement Benefit Application provides Internet front-end activity tallies. When a retirement application is filed via the Internet, an indicator is set in the record which indicates the information was received via the Internet. An SSA Claims Representative retrieves the online retirement application and enters the information into SSA’s Modernized Claims System (MCS). When a retirement insurance application is filed via telephone, in person through a local SSA field office, or by mail, an SSA Claims Representative enters the information into SSA’s MCS.

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Data Dictionary (for all datasets)

Fiscal Year (FY): The 12-month period from October 1st through September 30th.

Month (by District Office Workload Reporting (DOWR) Month): The month the data was produced. DOWR reporting months are administratively set reporting periods and do not necessarily correspond exactly to calendar months.

Total Social Security Retirement Insurance Applications: The number of retirement insurance applications submitted by telephone, in person through a local SSA field office, or by mail which could have been filed via the internet because they met the criteria for applying online.

Internet Social Security Retirement Insurance Applications: The number of retirement insurance applications filed via the internet.

Percentage Filed via the Internet: Field D divided by Field C expressed as a percentage. This is the percentage of Social Security Retirement Insurance Applications filed via the internet.

Comments: Information about a particular month's data collection and/or reporting.

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