How to Apply for Social Security Retirement Benefits

To apply for Social Security retirement benefits as a senior, you must meet eligibility criteria in terms of age, citizenship and amount of contribution. Some of the information and documents needed to apply for Social Security retirement benefits include your Social Security Number (SSN) as well as your spouse’s, a copy of your Social Security statement and your bank account information. You can file a Social Security retirement benefits application online, by phone or in person. If you reside outside the United States or one of its territories, you may also be able to file an application with the Social Security Administration (SSA) through certain U.S. government agencies located in foreign countries. To learn more about how to apply for SS retirement, continue reading the sections below.

How to Prepare for the Social Security Retirement Benefits Application

Before you apply for Social Security retirement benefits, you should evaluate your eligibility to claim SS benefits and be certain that you have reached the criteria established by the SSA. Understanding when to apply for Social Security retirement benefits, the consequences of claiming retirement but continuing to work, when to start receiving benefits and the advantages to delaying your retirement are all very significant factors to take into consideration. Thus, before filing a senior Social Security retirement application, make sure that you are aware of your minimum age requirement to retire and the consequences if you claim early, full or delayed retirement. To learn more about how to prepare before you apply for SS retirement benefits, download our guide today.

Documents Needed to Apply for Social Security Retirement Benefits

When filing a Social Security benefits application for seniors, you will be asked to provide your SSN as well as your spouse’s, a copy of your Social Security statement and your bank account information so that payments can be fulfilled. Additional documents required to apply for Social Security retirement benefits may also include the following:

  • Proof of your U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status
  • Your original birth certificate, a certified copy of your birth certificate or other proof of birth
  • A copy of your W-2 form and/or self-employment tax return from the previous year
  • A copy of your U.S. military service papers if you served in the military before 1968

You can still apply for Social Security retirement even if you do not have all the required documents in your possession. In certain cases, the SSA will attempt to contact your state’s Bureau of Vital Statistics to verify your information. Otherwise, the agency will contact you directly and you will have the opportunity to submit any missing documents.

How to Apply for Social Security Retirement Benefits

A Social Security retirement benefits application can be submitted online, by phone or in person. It is also possible to apply for SS senior retirement benefits from outside the United States or one of its territories. Eligibility requirements and documents needed to apply for SS retirement benefits are the same for each applicant, regardless of the application method he or she chooses. Besides the required documents detailed in the previous section, seniors will also be asked to provide personal information such as the following:

  • Date and place of birth
  • Names and dates of birth of current and former spouses, as well as dates of marriages and divorces
  • Names of children who are unmarried and younger than 18 years of age, who are attending secondary school and between 18 and 19 years of age or who were disabled before 22 years of age
  • Whether the senior has ever filed for Social Security benefits, Medicare or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Whether the senior has ever used any other SSN

To apply for Social Security retirement benefits, seniors will also be asked to provide work-related information. If a senior works for an employer, he or she will be asked to provide information such as the name and address of the employer, the amount of money that was earned by the worker during the current and previous year and whether the senior was unable to work due to illnesses or injuries during the 14 months that preceded the application date. If self-employed, a senior will also have to provide information on the SS retirement benefits application that pertains to earnings and submit a self-employment tax return. For more information regarding how to apply for SS retirement online, in person, by phone or from outside the U.S., download our comprehensive guide now.

What Happens After Applying for Social Security Retirement Benefits

After you apply for Social Security retirement benefits, the SSA will review your application and, if necessary, call you to inquire about more information or additional documents. The agency will also provide you with information regarding whether your family members will be able to receive your senior SS retirement benefits in the event of your passing. After the SSA ensures that it has received your documents required to apply for SS retirement benefits, the agency will send you a letter with its decision regarding the benefits amount you are qualified to receive.


What Financial Services Are Available for Seniors?

There are various financial services available to eligible seniors who may need assistance. These services include Social Security benefits, employment insurance and food stamps. Find out what services are available for eligible seniors by downloading our guide today.


What Eligibility Requirements Do Seniors Have to Meet to Receive Financial Services?

Eligibility requirements vary according to each financial service. However, seniors are typically required to meet age, residency and citizenship criteria to receive financial assistance. Learn more about eligibility requirements for seniors by downloading our guide now.