You can apply for benefits by calling our national toll-free service at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or visiting your local Social Security office. An appointment is not required, but if you call ahead and schedule one, it may reduce the time you spend waiting to apply.
You can help by being ready to:
- Provide any needed documents; and
- Answer the questions listed below.
Documents You may need to provide
We may ask you to provide documents to show that you are eligible, such as:
- Proof of the worker's death;
- Birth certificate or other proof of birth;
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if you were not born in the United States [More Info];
- U.S. military discharge paper(s) if you had military service before 1968;
- For disability benefits, the two forms (SSA-3368 and SSA-827) that describe your medical condition and authorize disclosure of information to us;
- W-2 forms(s) and/or self-employment tax returns for last year;
- Final divorce decree, if applying as a surviving divorced spouse; and
- Marriage certificate
We accept photocopies of W-2 forms, self-employment tax returns or medical documents, but we must see the original of most other documents, such as your birth certificate. (We will return them to you.)
Do not delay filing your claim just because you do not have all the documents. We will help you get them.
What we will ask you
- Your name and Social Security number;
- Your name at birth (if different);
- The worker's name, gender, social security number, date of birth, date of death, and place of death;
- Your date of birth and place of birth (State or foreign country);
- Whether a public or religious record was made of your birth before age 5;
- Your citizenship status;
- Whether you have used any other Social Security number;
- The State or foreign country of the worker's fixed permanent residence at the time of death;
- Whether you or anyone else has ever filed for Social Security benefits, Medicare or Supplemental Security Income on your behalf. (If so, we will also ask for information on whose Social Security record you applied.);
- Whether the worker ever filed for Social Security benefits, Medicare or Supplemental Security Income. (If so, we will also ask for information on whose Social Security record you applied.);
- Whether you became unable to work because of illnesses, injuries or conditions at any time within the past 14 months. (If "Yes," we will also ask you the date you became unable to work);
- Whether the worker was unable to work because of illnesses, injuries or conditions at any time during the 14 months before his or her death. (If "Yes," we will also ask you the date he or she became unable to work.);
- Whether you or the worker were ever in the active military service before 1968 and, if so, the dates of service and whether you receive or are eligible to receive a pension from a military or Federal civilian agency;
- Whether you or the worker worked for the railroad industry;
- Whether you or the worker ever earned social security credits under another country's social security system;
- Whether you qualified for or expect to receive a pension or annuity based on your own employment with the Federal government of the United States or one of its States or local subdivisions;
- The names, dates of birth (or age) and Social Security numbers (if known) of your or the worker's former spouses;
- The dates of your marriages and, for marriages that have ended, how and when they ended;
- The dates of the worker's marriages and how and when they ended;
- The amount of the worker's earnings in the year of death and the preceding year;
- Whether the worker had earnings in all years since 1978;
- The amount of your earnings for this year, last year and next year;
- Whether the worker had a parent who was dependent on the worker for ½ of his or her support at the time of the worker's death or at the time the worker became disabled;
- Whether you were living with the worker at the time of death;
- The month you want your benefits to begin; and
- If you are within 3 months of age 65, whether you want to enroll in Medical Insurance (Part B of Medicare).
Depending on the information you provide, we may need to ask other questions.
You also should bring along your checkbook or other papers that show your account number at a bank, credit union or other financial institution so you can sign up for Direct Deposit, and avoid worries about lost or stolen checks and mail delays.