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. Merry

    One of the SS recipients with whom I was debating in 1989-90 about the impending insolvency of the Social Security and Medicare programs had then been retired for 5 years. I showed her that she had already collected more than she had contributed. She shrugged her shoulders at me and said, “So what?” She is still alive. No solution to this problem except putting able-bodied 90-year-olds back to work.

    • Bill

      Most people, will, receive more than they actually put in. But a few points to take into consideration that most people don’t realize. 1) Not only do you put in 6.2% of your gross salary your employer matches it with another 6.2%. an amount they could give you for retirement if not for SS. If you’re self employed you pay all the 12.4%. 2) The average retiring (66) worker puts into SS about $50,000 in a lifetime that is matched with another $50,000 from their employer. Yes $100,000 and the average person receives about $1200 in benefits a month. A) the accumulation of the $100,000 if put in a retirement IRA at the overall yearly market average of 3.5% would be worth over $250,000 at retirement. B) Including a 1.5% raise in benefits and a 3.5% market gain. That person could start pulling $1200 month out over the next 25 years (with an average yearly increase of 1.5%), totaling $421,000 and still have over $115,000 left in their IRA, with their final benefit of $1,700 month. The miracle of compound interest. So yes, the average person would retire with $100,000 given to SS and pull out $421,000 till age 90, BUT invested they would have had access to $571,000 and $115,000 of that left to family. 3) The more you put in the less your % of return. Minimum monthly distribution for someone who only works the minimum $1260 a quarter for life (part time, and this isn’t too many people but we are talking minimum payout required by SS. Also all benefits are calculated on a then year basis for prior years), that’s $5040 salary a year for 35 years (input into SS would be ~$14,200). Their payout is $830 a month for a single. They definitely do pull out more than put in. Since 1973, the Social Security Administration has used an alternative way of determining benefits for low-income retirees known as the special minimum benefit. Basically, it uses a worker’s “years of coverage” to establish a minimum Social Security payment, not their earnings. For a person at the upper limit salary $118,500 they pay in with employer match, over a lifetime, about $330,000 (in an interest bearing IRA they would have about $570,000 at retirement) yet they get a check for $2640 a month. Quick math shows without interest, the low one on the totem pole gets 830/14,200 = .0584 of their input back per month, the average person gets 1200/100000 =.012 of their input back per month, yet the highest person gets 2640/330000 = .00745 of their input back per month.

      • Clint

        Bill you did a nice copy and paste but your statement about your employer giving you the 6 percent they are lawfully bound to give SS to the employee is often not going to happen. That money is going back to the board room.

        If the board rooms were fair in the first place, this safety net wouldn’t have needed to be created. Board Rooms dont do the right thing by employees they do what is good for themselves….That is Business sense.

        taking the cap off the upper limit would be very helpful. but this notion of others getting more than their share is bogus, cause everyone needs a share. not no share at all

        • Bob

          Ahh… where do you get this idea that the money goes to the Board Room?

          As a company owner, I cut a check that went directly to the IRS for it’s 1/2 of the required payment (in addition to the employees other 1/2).

  2. Peter W.

    Before I retired a couple of years ago, I researched my SS eligibility on line and learned the answers to all my questions that way.
    However, I was not successful in setting up the MySocialSecurity account because the web site would not accept the answers that I gave to the “security questions” intended to verify my identity.
    I was able to set up an appointment on-line for my local SS office. I then took the necessary documents to my appointment, where they accepted my application documents for benefits and set up the MySocialSecurity account for me. The service at the local office was fine. The waiting room was almost full, but the process still moved quickly.

    • Jim

      Obviously every office has different levels of service. Between myself and my wife I could write a book.

  3. Marcel

    Yes, the current SSI is not sustainable. Either current workers must be allowed to choose the way their future retirement dollars are invested.

    Hopefully, the new Adminstration and President Trump will allow the American worker to have a say in how their deducted amounts are protected and allowed to get market rate increases in value. The previous President did nothing to address this problem.

    • Martin

      Social Security gives a guaranteed return of 8%. What other investment offer this.?
      President Obama saved social security &Medicare. Trump will destroy both.

      • CHUCK

        YOU ARE SO WRONG. With Trumps business sense, he is much more likely to not only save it but fix it.

        • Laura L.

          Dream on Chuck

      • tony

        Obama kept letting the Fed lower interest rate. We only made 3%.

        Trump wants the Fed to raise interest rates.

      • Jim

        Obama played golf

        • KB

          I remember years when my stocks lost almost 50% of their value – social security is a solid safety net. Most people don’t have the discipline to save long term, and with the removal of fiduciary responsibility to the saver, stockbrokers will be the only one making money in those markets.

          • Clint

            We are all little people before and after elections. I agree taking the CAP off of contribution limits would be a help. There still is a lot of money here and more than a few would love to raid what is in there. You put in the funds, dont let someone talk you out of them.

        • Molly

          who plays more golf now, huh Jim????

    • Patti

      Be careful what you say. Trump might just wipe out SS and Medicare too.

      • Marc P.

        Congress is way ahead of you. They voted on whether to end Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid the second Tuesday in January. Lucky for everyone here who is on any of these programs, the vote was 11 to 11, although 2 Republicans were absent – who would have who voted with their party to end the programs. (One was Jeff Sessions; had he not been tied up in a confirmation hearing, you wouldn’t be griping about Social Security and Medicare anymore because they’d be gone.)

        This information is available to everyone on the Congressional Reports website; all bills that are proposed are here from day of introduction to final passage (or failure) and you can see every action throughout the process; who sponsored a bill, all changes and amendments, and the results of the votes (who voted “yea” or “nay”). is the site. For laws already passed you can also go to Just FYI, Congress has already passed dozens of bills so far this year reversing laws already in place, and currently there are are over 28,000 bills in progress, from both last years’ Congress and this one.

        Its definitely worth taking a look at- while we’re still able to. Congress is writing up all the bills they’ve been dreaming of to eliminate all social programs, protections, and benefit of any kind for the average American as fast as they can and Trump is signing everything they send to his desk.

        • Clint

          why get rid of stuff that helps little people like me.

  4. Scott

    Since contribution didn’t start until 1937, Ida May couldn’t have contributed for more than 3 years, yet she received benefits for 35 years. After seeing the contribution to payout differential for Ida May, you would have thought the geniuses in Washington would have figured out this Ponzi scheme is not sustainable. If there is any hope of saving social security, they will need to raise the eligibility age, increase contributions and decrease benefits.

    • Bob

      How about if Congress quits siphoning money out of the SS system to fund other pet projects?

  5. Susy

    Yeah!! They keep RAISING the age for retirement, Right? I keep wondering when are they going to give us a dissent ($) RAISE?

    • S T.

      It would be great to get a raise for dissenting! It took me quite a while to figure out you meant decent 🙂 The COLA should never be less than the Medicare premium increase. This year, there was basically no COLA at all since the Medicare premium ate it up.

      • vjones

        Medicare cannot be increased if there is no COLA to the Social Security benefits. .03% increase in benefits and 5% or more in Medicare premiums.

  6. Thomas H.

    She was the last person to get good service.

    • Susan

      Thank you for the laugh!

    • James L.

      How do you know she got good service? Maybe ss was bad right from the get go

  7. Theresa

    Forget receiving assistance in the Social Security office, no help in there, retire online, reps were not helpful or knowledgeable, waste of taxpayers money.

    • Fred

      Not true. Their staff was very helpful in Delaware when I applied for SS benefits in 2010 when I was abut 65. I guess you may just have been unfortunate to be attended by maybe a new recruit? Eventually you do get benefits of the system that is due to you if you had contributed to it.

      • Ray F.

        Thank you for sharing Fred! We’re pleased to hear we were able to help.

      • Howard C.

        I called 3 different times last week to get all the knowledge i needed and i think satisfied with there help. Thank you Lancaster Ohio

        • Ray F.

          Thank you for sharing!

  8. tony

    They want to raise the retirement age for Social Security again. When are the going to raise the age for SSI for people over 65?

  9. Hospitals &.

    Sanders, Tony J. Pulse Nightclub v. Human Rights Campaign. Social Security Matters Blog. Hospitals & Asylums HA-17-1-17

    Ms. Salman owes the victims of the Pulse Nightclub her entire inheritance from her abusive ex-husband, the rampage shooter, Omar Mateen, for her equal widow share. Taking into consideration the unasked for Medicaid subsidies since 2014 the Warfarin (Coumadin) manufacturer may choose to satisfy initial UN Compensation settlement rates, maybe to inform the FDA that Warfarin dependency is an absolute contraindication for HRT for MTF types – $1 million for 200 victims paid an average of $5,000.

    A federal magistrate judge is now determining flight risk of the pre-trial detainee before a federal judge can be found to take the case. Art. 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention provides No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited. Pillage is prohibited. Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited. The major issue is that the indictment seems to have been pirated/ defrauded by the FBI before a Judge could issue a federal arrest warrant served by US Marshall under Rule 4 Fed. Crim. P. Both Assistant US Attorneys who wrote the Indictment and FBI are self-incriminating to accuse the defendant with providing misleading information under 18USC§1512(b)(3). The FBI must be dismissed with a self-incrimination conviction under 18USC§1512 and Art. 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention before the terrorism trial can start to liberate Congress from the rampage shooter (Pelosi’s Permanent Select Intelligence Committee, FBI?) in good grace with the Geneva Conventions. Do the surviving victims and the families of those who died in the gay bar shooting and Human Rights Campaign need compensation under Art. 14 of the Convention against Torture or do they owe the shooter’s widow their compensation under Art. 14 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights?

    Since 2014 Medicaid has been paying for Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for Male-To-Female types and penectomies. Medicaid needs to stop paying for HRT for MTF types and sex change operations because the estrogen causes a “Warfarin dependency”. The FDA has to revise its policy so that Warfarin dependency is an absolute contraindication for HRT for MTF types.

  10. Hospitals &.

    Don’t Forget to Try DuoDote® Injection for Emergency Stroke Treatment HA-30-1-17

    Three quarters of a million Americans suffer a cerebral vascular accident (CVA), also known as a stroke, each year. One-fifth of them die of the stroke, and at least one-third remain permanently disabled. In the United States, strokes increase in a given year from 35 per 100,000 people at age thirty-five to 1,100 to 100,000 at ages seventy-five to eighty. Getting treatment for an ischemic stroke within three hours of the onset of symptoms with tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) can dissolve clots and lessen disability by 40 percent if it is administered within three hours of an ischemic stroke. A hemorrhagic stroke caused when a blood vessel breaks and bleeds into the brain is much harder to treat: more than half are fatal. rtPA, a clot-busting drug, is not for home use because it would increase hemorrhaging and a physician must distinguish between ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke. Extensive physical therapy for many months helps many regain function. rtPA (recombinant tissue plasminogen activator) is for mild strokes only <25 on the NIH stroke scale, in patients age <80, without hemorrhage, anticoagulant use or elevated blood pressure.

    Atropine and pralidoxime (DuoDote®) is indicated for the treatment of poisoning by organophosphorous nerve agents as well as organophosphorous insecticides and galantamine. Atropine and pralidoxime (DuoDote) is injected into a muscle in the upper thigh – Atropine 2.1 mg/0.7 mL Pralidoxime Chloride 600 mg/2 mL. One injection should be enough for the emergency treatment of a stroke patient of undetermined cause. Atropine should be included in the emergency medical response to all strokes, both hemorrhagic and ischemic strokes. Further review of galamantine is needed because the lucid dreaming patent application of 2003 found there was also associated with a significantly elevated frequency of sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis is a parasoma that can be very nightmarish. Essentially, one remains aware during the transition into sleep onset and/or REM sleep while the body undergoes muscle paralysis. Drugs with anticholinergic properties and which cross the blood/brain barrier, such as atropine, benztropine (Cogentin) and trihexyphenidyl (Artane) counteract the effects of galantamine and some organophosphate poisoning.

    E. coli is a zoonotic infection most commonly transmitted by the manure of cows (Bos taurus) that can cause food and water-born epidemics in humans. Shiga toxin producing E. coli (STEC) seem to be more associated with diarrhea so the water of forgetfulness is assumed to be contaminated by verocytotoxin producing E. coli (VTEC). VTs produced by these bacteria are thought to damage host endothelial cells in small vessels of the intestine, kidney and brain resulting in thrombotic microangiopathy. Metronidazole is more helpful in the treatment of infectious diarrhea caused by E. coli than Bactrim, but it is contraindicated for use in central nervous system disease and when it comes to verocytotoxin contamination of the groundwater and memory there is not really anything to do but stop drinking and cooking with cow manure contaminated water.

    The expected rate of occurrence of CJD (the human variation of Mad Cow disease) has been 1 in 1 million people. Yet one study found that people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, whose symptoms were difficult to distinguish from CJD) were examined after death, 5.5 percent of the presumed Alzheimer’s victims were found actually to have CJD. Another study counted 13 percent. Find and condemn concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) polluting the watershed to use cattle irrigation systems away from waterways.

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