The actual process of applying for Social Security benefits is quite simple. You can do so by calling/emailing the social security office to begin the process. And, actually applying is either done online, in mail, or in-person at a local administration office. What’s complicated is what you’ll have to provide when applying, so let’s go over those documents.

Your Information

You’ll need to provide several pieces of information about yourself and your spouse when applying for SS benefits.

You will be requested to include information about

  1. Your DOB and SS number
  2. Your spouses DOB, SS number
  3. If divorced, your former spouse’s information, as well as dates/places of marriages and dates of divorce
  4. Names of children under 18-19, or a disabled child(ren) under 22 years of age
  5. Bank information, routing number
  6. Whether you’ve filed for Medicaid, Medicare, or other benefits
  7. If anyone’s applied on your behalf
  8. If so, who they were, and why they filed for you (this information will be asked during your application process)
  9. Your citizenship status
  10. If applying for retirement benefits when you want them to begin/end
  11. And if you’ve ever used another social security number
  12. Also, if so, what it was, and why you used it
  13. If you’re within 3 months of turning 65, do you want to apply for Medicaid Part B at the same time you’re applying for SS benefits?

One you’ve answered personal questions and those about your spouse, you will also have to provide information about your work during the application process as well.

Your Work

You’ll have to include:

  1. You will have to include Name/address of employers for the last year you were employed
  2. Amount earned during the last year of employment (if it is less than a year, the average/estimate should be included)
  3. Social security statement of records copy should be provided when applying
  4. Social security statements are available online and you should fill out the application even if you don’t have all relevant information
  5. If you served in the military, start and end dates when you served and the branches you served in
  6. If you became unable to work in the last 14 months prior to applying due to illness, you’ll have to provide details of the illness and why you couldn’t work
  7. Include information if you’ve ever earned social security benefits from another country (when and how much), or if your spouse has (when and how much they earned)
  8. Information about railroad work
  9. Must include details if either of you worked in the industry, and the dates, as well as the position you held
  10. If you qualify or expect to earn a pension with your employer when you are ready to retire with them you must include that information


During the application process, you’re also required to furnish several documents to prove your identity and work information which you have included. You’ll have to include your completed application online, in person, or via mail. In addition to your application you’ll have to include

  1. A copy of your birth certificate and proof of US citizenship (passport, work documents, etc.)
  2. Copy of military service papers for active duty if you served, prior to 1968
  3. Copies of w2 forms or self-employment documents if you were self employed, to quantify the information you included about your earnings

These documents must be the originals that you are submitting with your application (tax return, w2, medical records, etc)

If you don’t have all originals, still submit your application as the SS office can contact Vital records offices and help you obtain them.

Also, if you aren’t sure where to begin, you will find there are many resources to assist you. You can visit the SS Administration website. You can also visit a local SS office where you live, as they are located everywhere in the US, as well as outside the US in US territories/regions.