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Thursday November 2, 2000

Catherine Noe, Press Officer

For Immediate Release

410-965-8904 FAX 410-966-9973

Social Security Online



The Social Security Administration announced that as of today, the public can apply for Social Security retirement benefits on the Internet at, the Social Security Administration's (SSA's) website.

"People will now be able to apply for Social Security retirement benefits online at their convenience," said William A. Halter, Deputy Commissioner of Social Security. "This new online service offers the public an easy and convenient way to obtain the benefits they expect and deserve. As we move into the 21st Century, the Social Security Administration will be using 21st Century technology to meet the service needs of our customers."

Throughout the 65-year history of the Social Security Administration, it has earned a reputation for providing superior service to its customers. To meet customer service goals, the agency has adapted its business practices to meet the changing needs of the people it serves. The 76 million-strong baby boom generation will create unique service challenges for the Social Security Administration. Baby boomers are more technologically savvy than any generation before them and they will expect to receive state-of-the-art service. According to a study by Jupiter Communications, 14 million Americans age 50 and older are online and that number is expected to double in the next few years.

"We are always looking for ways to improve service to our customers," Deputy Commissioner Halter commented. "Giving our customers more opportunities to conduct business over the Internet will reduce costs and make our services more accessible to the public, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. But at Social Security, privacy is a high priority and we only make new online services available when we are confident that the public's privacy is guaranteed."

An applicant using the Social Security Administration's web-site to apply for benefits will fill out the online application and send the information electronically to the agency. The applicant must print a copy of the completed application form, sign it, and mail it or bring it to the address provided by Social Security. Along with the signed form, SSA also needs certain documents, such as a person's birth certificate, to establish eligibility for Social Security benefits. An applicant can either mail or take these items to Social Security. The electronic application will be stored on a database and automatically retrieved when Social Security receives the applicant's signed application.

Individuals must meet certain conditions in order to take advantage of the Internet retirement benefit application. For example, they must be at least 61 years and 9 months or older and plan to start receiving retirement benefits within four months.

The Social Security Administration uses the strongest commercially available encryption to ensure that an applicant's confidential information is secure as it travels over the Internet.

Interested individuals can go directly to, the location for the online retirement benefits application form.

Additionally, there is another new service for individuals filing for retirement benefits. Now, when a person calls the Social Security Administration's national toll-free 800 number (800-772-1213), they may be able to apply for retirement or survivors benefits immediately. Certain callers will be able to file directly over the phone on their first contact with SSA without having to make an appointment or visit an office. To file an immediate claim, individuals should have certain documents handy when calling such as their birth certificate, their most recent W-2 form or tax return and bank account information.

"At the Social Security Administration, we are committed to providing our customers with service choices," stated Deputy Commissioner Halter. "We recognize that the Internet is not for everyone. We'll always be there for our customers who wish to be served on the telephone or face-to-face in our offices."

Individuals will still have the option to set up an appointment. They can call SSA's national toll-free 800 number to schedule a phone interview or a face-to-face interview. SSA also offers immediate service for benefit claims when an individual visits one of Social Security's 1300 field offices. SSA processes approximately 1.9 million retirement claims annually.

Note to Correspondents: Fact sheets with additional information about this subject are available below

Retirement Online Fact Sheet
Immediate Claims Taking Fact Sheet
Online Services Fact Sheet

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Note: Copies of most SSA press releases, as well as other Social Security information and statistics,
are available at SSA’s Internet site, Social Security Online, at
Also look there for information on subscribing to SSA’s
free electronic newsletter, Social Security eNews.

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

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