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Fact Sheet

Social Security Expands Online Services to Public with
Internet Retirement Insurance Benefits Application

As part of its ongoing effort to expand electronic services, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is offering a new online service for individuals who are applying for Social Security Retirement Benefits. Customers can now apply for Social Security retirement benefits online at, SSA's Internet site.

The Internet application allows individuals to apply for their retirement benefits at their convenience.

Who Can Use the Service and How Does It Work?

  • Individuals may go to to start the online application process. SSA advises people to file for benefits 3 months before they want their benefits to begin.
  • To use this service, people must be 61 years and 9 months or older and plan to start receiving retirement benefits within 4 months. 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 benefits with a Social Security office will not be able to use the online service.
  • Answers to eight screening questions will determine whether or not a person can proceed and file for retirement 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 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, such as:

· 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. This verifies that the online information was successfully transmitted to SSA and can be used to verify the status of a person's claim.

Now is the Time for Social Security Internet Services

As the Baby Boom generation moves toward retirement age, they are conducting an increasing amount of personal business online. Individuals age 50 and older are the fastest growing group on the Internet and their numbers are expected to double in the next three years. Baby Boomers can expect to be able to do business online with Social Security.

SSA is committed to offering customers more choices and finding new ways to serve its customers more efficiently.

The money and time savings achieved by taking applications over the Internet will be significant. This is particularly important since the number of Social Security beneficiaries is expected to double by 2030.

Internet services offer ease and convenience when conducting business with SSA.

Protecting the privacy of customers is a high priority at SSA. The Social Security Administration makes new services available only when confident that the public's privacy is guaranteed.

SSA knows that the Internet is not for everyone. The agency will continue to provide world class service to customers through its national toll-free 800 number and in its 1,300 local field offices across the country.

SSA Press Office 449 Altmeyer Bldg. 6401 Security Blvd. Baltimore, MD 21235
410-965-8904 FAX 410-966-9973

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