Online - Use our Social Security Retirement/Medicare Benefit Application to apply for retirement, spouse's, ex-spouse's or Medicare benefits.
By phone - Call us at
1-800-772-1213.If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can call us at TTY 1-800-325-0778.
In person - Visit your local Social Security office. (Call first to make an appointment.)
If you do not live in the U.S. or one of its territories you can also - Contact the nearest U.S. Social Security office, U.S. Embassy or consulate.
- You must be at least 61 years and 9 months old to apply for retirement benefits.
- If you are already age 62, you may be able to start your benefits in the month you apply.
- You should apply for benefits no more than four months before the date you want your benefits to start.
- Benefits are paid the month after they are due. (If your benefits start in April, you will receive your first benefit payment in May.)
- If you are not getting Social Security and you are not ready to retire, you should still use our online retirement benefit application to sign up for just Medicare three months before your 65th birthday.
When You Apply
Please be ready to supply the information we need to approve your application for these benefits:
- Information You Need To Apply For Retirement Benefits Or Medicare - Form SSA-1
- Information You Need to Apply for Spouse's or Divorced Spouse's Benefits - Form SSA-2
- Information You Need To Apply for Child's Benefits - Form SSA-4
We may ask you to provide certain documents to show that you are eligible and help us decide how much your benefits should be. If you do not have a birth certificate, you may request one from the state where you were born. For details on where to write in your state, check Where to Write for Vital Records.
Also, bring along your bank information so you can sign up for Direct Deposit. If you do not have a bank account you can sign up for the Direct Express® card program. With Direct Express®, deposits from federal payments are made directly to the card.
Other Retirement Planning Websites page for links to useful retirement planning information.
Other Things To Consider page for a list of things you may want to consider before you decide when to retire.
Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool (BEST) to help identify other Social Security programs for which you may be eligible.