Online Services, Retirement

Skip the Trip! Retire Online

January 31, 2017 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: November 3, 2023

woman on laptopOn this day in 1940, a 65-year-old legal secretary named Ida May Fuller became the first monthly Social Security beneficiary. A few months earlier, she had stopped by her local Social Security office in Vermont to learn how the program works. She knew she had paid into Social Security but wasn’t sure if she would get anything back out. A clerk at the office helped her apply for retirement benefits.

Today, you can skip the trip to a Social Security office and apply for retirement benefits from the comfort of home. Our Retirement Benefits web page makes it easy. Just select “Apply for Retirement Benefits” and follow the simple prompts. It takes as little as 15 minutes!

First, sign in to or sign up for your free personal my Social Security account. There, you can view and print out your Social Security Statement to verify your lifetime earnings record and get an estimate of your potential benefit amount. Then, visit our Retirement Planner for answers to your questions and help with deciding when to start receiving benefits. Use our Retirement Estimator for benefit estimates based on the earnings information we have for you in our records. You’ll also find helpful links to guide you as you complete the online application. If you need to step away, you can save your entries and continue later where you left off.

When you’re done, you’ll get a receipt that you can print and keep for your records. And by signing into your personal my Social Security account, you can check the status of your application online.

Of course, you’re welcome to apply for retirement benefits on the phone or in person if you prefer. Call 1-800-772-1213 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday to set up an appointment to visit your local Social Security office. Deaf and hard-of-hearing people can use our text telephone service at 1-800-325-0778.

Whether you apply online, over the phone, or in person, our knowledgeable staff will review your application carefully. We’ll contact you if we need more information or discover that you may be able to receive a higher benefit on another person’s work record, such as your spouse. We’ll also tell you if other family members may be able to receive benefits on your record.

In Ida May Fuller’s day, you could still ride in a rumble seat to get to your Social Security office. Now, our convenient Internet services are allowing many of our customers to ride the web to take care of their Social Security business. Aunt Ida, as her friends called her, continued to receive Social Security benefits until her death in 1975. She was 100 years old.

Social Security is with you through life’s journey, just as we were back in 1940. Giving our customers more choices is one way Social Security is securing today and tomorrow for millions — during Ida May Fuller’s time, now, and for future generations.

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About the Author

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications


  1. Terry P.

    This website was… how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve found something that helped me. Thank you!

  2. Debra

    Hi! I tried to use the online application for retirement on SSA, and was redirected to apply for SSI. Is the website not open for application (for retirement)? I’m asking here because it’s more private than Facebook.

  3. Lynda E.

    I would like to make an in-person appointment at my neighborhood SSA office.

  4. Moudrek E.

    On February 10 2020 I will reach full retirement age at 66. I have two children 8 and 12.
    Can I apply online and what is the earliest date to apply in January 2020.
    Thank you

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Moudrek. Thanks for your question. Social Security retirement applications can be filed up to 4 months in advance. You can file for retirement online; however, applications for your children cannot be filed online. You can schedule an appointment with your local office by calling us at 1-800-772-1213 between 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday and a representative will assist you. We hope this helps.

  5. Donna T.

    I lost my social security card. Can I apply for one online? Thank you in advance.

    • Luis A.

      Hi Donna. Please note before you request a replacement card, you should first realize that you may not need a replacement card. You will rarely need to show it. Knowing the Social Security number is what is important. You may be eligible to apply for a replacement Social Security card online. If you cannot get your replacement Social Security number card online, please visit our “Social Security Number and Card” web page to learn more on the process, and what documents you will need to get a card. To find the nearest Social Security Office or Card Center in your area, click here. If you suspect someone is using your Social Security number, you report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission online or call 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338). In addition, you can order free credit reports annually from the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and Trans Union) online. For more information, check out our publication titled “Identity Theft And Your Social Security Number.” We hope this is helpful. We hope this helps.

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