Filing for Social Security Benefits

How to file for and obtain Social Security benefits.
Start the process of filing for Social Security benefits by contacting your local Social Security office. Most sizable cities have at least one Social Security office; in major urban areas, there will be several. You can find the address and telephone number of the office closest to you in your telephone directory under the listing for United States Government, Social Security Administration, or sometimes under United States Government, Department of Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration. If you have trouble finding an office nearby, call the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 or visit its website at
Social Security workers should be able to answer general questions about benefits and rules over the phone -- including what type of paperwork must be completed and what documentation is required to claim each kind of benefit. It is generally best to get the benefit application process started by paying a personal visit to the nearest office. If illness or disability prevents this, however, call for accommodations. The most important thing is to act promptly and apply for the benefits to which you are entitled.
If you need to receive benefit payments at the youngest eligibility age, file your claim three months before the birthday on which you will become eligible. This will give Social Security time to process your claim so that you will receive the benefits on time. If you file a claim later, you cannot get benefits retroactively for months during which you were eligible but before you applied.
Anyone who is eligible for Social Security benefits is also eligible for Medicare coverage at age 65. Even if you are not going to claim Social Security benefits at age 65 -- because your benefit amount will be higher if you wait -- you should sign up for Medicare coverage three months before your 65th birthday. There is no reason to delay signing up for Medicare, and waiting until after your 65th birthday will delay coverag