How to Apply for Social Security

The purpose of Social Security is to provide retirement and disability income to workers and their dependants. Social Security provides a guaranteed income to nearly 53 million Americans who have no income due to retirement, disability or death. In order to be eligible for retirement benefits a person must have enough credits, i.e. dollars that were contributed to the fund. The credits come from the Social Security tax you pay on your earnings [source: AFL-CIO].

A person who is eligible to receive Social Security benefits must file an application with the Social Security Office. We will now discuss how to file an application.


The quickest way to apply for Social Security benefits is to fill in the application form online. You can apply as soon as you are 61 years and 9 months old, and can start receiving benefits as soon as you are 62 years old. The whole application process takes about 15 minutes if it's done online, at You can also apply by telephone or you can contact your local Social Security Administration Office and set up a personal appointment.

Here's the information you'll need to have on hand when filling in your application form for benefits.

  • Social Security number
  • Name, date and place of birth
  • Details of the bank account into which you want the benefit to be paid
  • Details of the previous year's income
  • Name and address of your employer(s) for the last two years
  • Details of military service if it was prior to 1968
  • Name, date of birth, and Social Security number of your current spouse as well as of any former spouses, dates of marriage and divorce or death, when relevant.
  • Your Social Security statement. If you do not have this, you may request one by visiting Don't wait for your Social Security statement to arrive before filling in the application for your benefits [source: SSA].

Follow the instructions on the application form and provide all information that is requested.