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Are You Ready To Apply For Social Security Benefits?

An Excerpt from the Social Security Administration Pamphlet: Understanding The Benefits

Contact your local Social Security Administration office when you are ready to file for benefits. If you are just thinking about filing for retirement benefits, you should talk with a Social Security representative a few months before the year you plan to retire. To file for disability or survivors benefits, you should apply as soon as you are eligible.

You can also apply for benefits on the Social Security website. Go to www.socialsecurity.gov and click on "Apply for retirement benefits." You also can calculate your benefit amount at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners.

What you will need to apply:

When you apply for benefits, you will need to provide certain documents. The documents will depend on the type of benefits you are filing for. Providing these documents quickly will help get payments of your benefits to you faster. You must submit original documents or copies certified by the issuing office. No photocopies will be accepted.

Do not delay filing an application just because you do not have all of the documents you need. Your representative will help you get them.

Below is a list of documents you may need when you sign up for Social Security:

  • Your Social Security card (or a record of your number);
  • Your birth certificate;
  • Your children's birth certificates (if they are applying);
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if you (or a child who is applying) were not born in the United States;
  • Your spouse's birth certificate and Social Security number if he or she is applying for benefits based on your earnings;
  • Marriage certificate (if signing up on a spouse's earnings);
  • Your military discharge papers if you had military service; and
  • Your most recent W-2 form, or your tax return, if you are self-employed.

You will be notified if other documents are needed when you apply.

For more information on Social Security benefits, contact your local Social Security Administration Office or visit their website at www.socialsecurity.gov.

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