Social Security tip: Questions and answers


Published: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 3:01 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 3:01 p.m.

Q: What’s the easiest way to apply for retirement benefits?

A: The easiest way to apply for retirement benefits is online at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline. It’s easy and secure. You can complete it in as little as 15 minutes. In most cases, once your application is submitted electronically, you’re done. There are no forms to sign and usually no documentation is required. Social Security will process your application and contact you if we need more information.

You also can apply by calling the toll-free number at 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778) between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Representatives will make an appointment to take your application over the telephone or at a local Social Security office.

Q: How can I get an estimate of my retirement benefits?

A: Use the online Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator. There, you can enter certain identifying information about yourself, including your name, date of birth, Social Security number, place of birth, and mother’s maiden name.

If the personal information you provide matches our records, you can enter your expected retirement age and future wages. The online application will combine your earnings data Social Security has and provide you a quick and reliable online benefit estimate.

You can even enter different “what-if” scenarios to find out what your benefits will be in different situations.

In addition, you can obtain your online Social Security Statement, which provides estimates of future benefits as well as a record of your earnings to make sure your past earnings are reported correctly.

Find the online statement at www.socialsecurity.gov/statement.

Q: How do I report a change of address if I’m getting Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

A: A person receiving SSI must report any change of address by calling the toll-free number at 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778) or by visiting a local office within 10 days after the month the change occurs.

You cannot complete a change of address online. You should report your new address to Social Security so you can continue to get mail from Social Security when necessary, even if you get your benefits electronically by direct deposit or Direct Express.

Learn more about SSI at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi.

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