How do I apply for Social Security benefits?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Aug 23, 2012

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The quickest way to apply for benefits, according to the Social Security Administration, is to apply online; alternatively you can schedule an appointment at your local social security office by calling their toll-free telephone number 1-800-772-1213. For disability, survivors, and supplemental security benefits, the Social Security Administration recommends that you apply as soon as you are eligible. For retirement benefits, they recommend that you meet with them about a year before you plan to retire or retire from your own business.

When applying for Social Security benefits, you will be required to produce documents such as:

  1. Your social security card;
  2. Your birth certificate;
  3. Marriage certificate (if based on your spouse’s Social Security account); 
  4. Your most recent W-2 form if you are an employee or your most recent federal income tax return if you are self-employed. 

Additional documents may be required by the Social Security Administration – if so, they will let you know what they need. Even if you do not have all of the required documents currently in your possession, go ahead and start the application process – the Social Security Administration can assist you in getting the documents during the application process.

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