Retire Online with Social Security, Quickly and Easily

January 10, 2019 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: November 3, 2023

The idea of applying for Social Security retirement benefits might seem daunting, but it’s not. There’s no need to visit an office. You don’t have to use the phone. We have an online retirement application that you can complete in as little as 15 minutes and from the comfort of your home or office. 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 any further information is needed.

It’s as simple as that. You can start your application.

You can apply online for retirement benefits or benefits as a spouse if you:

  • Are at least 61 years and 9 months old.
  • Are not currently receiving benefits on your own Social Security record.
  • Have not already applied for retirement benefits.
  • Want your benefits to start no more than 4 months in the future. (We cannot process your application if you apply for benefits more than 4 months in advance.)

You’ll have to create or sign into your my Social Security account as part of your application. If you don’t have an account yet, this is a perfect time to create one. Just as important, this is where you will be able to check your application for benefits. Like our other online services, my Social Security is available on your time and there’s no waiting in line or on the phone. You can see your entire work history going back to your first job to make sure we have all of your wages correctly tallied. Create or sign into your my Social Security account.

Are you curious about how much your retirement benefits will be? You can get an idea of what your benefits will be using our Retirement Estimator.

Social Security provides services for millions of people, but we also want to make your experience with us as simple and easy as possible. Our many online services, including retiring online, are part of that mission. You can access more by visiting our online services website.

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About the Author

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications


  1. Jhon k.


  2. R B.

    When I retire I receive my benefits at 62 at the reduced rate, if I have a spouse will there be a reduction to that amount like some pensions have for the spouse to continue my benefits if I die

    • Ann C.

      Hi. The amount of your spouse’s survivor’s benefit is based on several factors, including: your earnings, when you started receiving your benefits, their age, and the amount of their own retirement benefit. We compare their own benefit with their potential survivor benefit. If their survivor benefit would be higher than their own current retirement benefit, they would be eligible for survivor benefits. You can learn more information about Survivors benefits here. We hope this helps.

  3. Cheryl C.

    How long does it take to process a social security retirement application? Applied on January 4th and status has not changed from processing.

    • Sue

      Hi, Cheryl, and thanks for your question. Our system is set up to take claims up to 4 months in advance to give ample time for processing. As you can imagine, many people retire at the end of the year, so we’re handling many claims from throughout the country. If you need to check the status of your retirement application, you can call your local Social Security office. You’ll find the telephone number using our Office Locator. Our call volume and wait times are greater than normal, so we ask for your patience. We hope this helps.

  4. Dr. T.

    I started an online application for benefits in August 2020 (and received a “re-entry number) –which unbeknownst to me at the time was too early for June 2021 planned date to receive benefits. So I never submitted it and stopped. Now (February 2021) I want to apply for the June 2021 date. Do I continue with the “old” application or start a new one?

    • Vonda

      Hi Dr. Tim, thanks for using our blog to ask your question. A partially completed online retirement application establishes a protective filing date. You are protected as of the date you first completed the initial information screens (e.g., Applicant Identification, Contact Information, and Birth and Citizenship Information) and selected the “Next” button. The next page that appears in the path is the “Re-entry Number” screen, which provides you with the 6-month protective filing language. If you are beyond the 6-month protective filing date, you should be able to start a new online retirement application.

      If you are unable or prefer not to file online, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  5. Ariel G.


    Do I have to be in the US for a full 30 days to qualify for SSS retirement pension? I legally worked in the US for over 15 yrs but I am a citizen/resident of Canada now.
    Since I moved I visits US but only for a few days. Kindly advise.

    • Vonda

      Hi Ariel, thanks for using our blog. Our publication, “Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States”, explains how being outside the United States may affect Social Security payments. If you aren’t a U.S. citizen, you must meet one of the conditions for payment described in this publication.

      You may use our Payments Abroad Screening Tool to see if benefits can continue indefinitely, stop after six consecutive months or if certain country specific restrictions apply.

      For additional assistance, you can also use the Canadian Service Area Directory to determine which Resident Office is near you. We hope this information helps!

  6. Tom T.

    I plan to apply for my social security retirement benefit at age 62. My spouse is currently age 60 & therefore cannot apply for benefits for at least 2 years.

    Based on estimates, my 50% spousal benefit should exceed my retirement benefit. If I receive my retirement benefits this year, will I receive the increased spousal benefit in 2 years when my spouse begins his benefits? Do I need to reapply for SSI when my husband applies for his benefit to obtain this spousal benefit increase? Thanks for your help.

    • Vonda

      Hi Tom, thanks for using our blog to ask your questions. If you qualify for a retirement benefit from your own work history you can file for that benefit as early as age 62. You cannot receive additional spouse’s benefits until your spouse is receiving their retirement benefits (except for divorced spouses).

      If you took your reduced retirement first while waiting for your spouse to apply, your own retirement portion remains reduced. When you apply for spouse’s benefits later, the total retirement and spouses benefit together will total less than 50 percent of the worker’s amount. You can find out more about this at our Benefits for Spouses web page.

  7. RBeverage

    I am waiting until I turn 70 in April 2021 before starting to collect Social Security.
    I’m not sure though when I should be getting my first payment – is it April or May?

    • Vonda

      Hi Richard, thanks for using our blog to ask your question. When you delay collecting benefits beyond your full retirement age, the amount of your retirement benefit will continue to increase up until age 70. There is no incentive to delay claiming after the month you attain age 70.

      Social Security benefits are paid the month after they are due. So, for instance, if your benefits begin with the month of April, you will receive your first benefit payment in May. The exact payment date is determined by your date of birth. For future pay days, you may find the Schedule of Social Security Payments calendars useful.

      Keep in mind that you can apply four months before you want your benefits to start. When you’re ready to apply for retirement benefits, use our online retirement application, the quickest, easiest, and most convenient way to apply.

  8. Sandy W.

    Today I am applying for retirement benefits to begin in April 2021 (month I turn 70) so that I can receive all 48 months of DRCs. My husband is filing a Restricted application for my spousal benefits ( not filing for his own so that his benefits will continue to grow(DRCs) until he is 70). Can we file both of our applications online on the same day or must he wait until I am receiving benefits??? Will my husband be able to see his retirement benefit amounts when he logs in after applying for spousal benefits????

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