Online Services, Retirement

Skip the Trip! Retire Online

January 31, 2017 • By

Last Updated: August 4, 2021

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


  1. Mel

    Social Security is one of the most beloved programs in the history of the United States.

    It has lifted millions of senior citizens out of poverty since Ida Mae collected her first check.

    It was never designed to provide the sole income for a retiree. It was designed so that along with employer provided benefits and personal savings a retiree can live a secure life.
    Too bad employer provided benefits are disappearing and the high cost of living has prevented many from saving.

    For too many Social Security is the only source of income in retirement.

    We must work to protect the great program it is as well as to improve it.

    By the way every contact I ever had with a Social Security or Medicare employee has been efficient, polite and helpful.

    • Ray F.

      Thanks for your feedback! We are committed to providing the public with the best service possible. We appreciate your thoughts.

    • Ann C.

      Thanks for your feedback, Mel! We value your opinion of us and look forward to many more years of serving you in the future.

  2. a. d.

    I have been told that Veterans Affair personnel, if they show signs of intelligence, caring, and a want to help, are immediately transferred to Social Security. So, in view of some of my experiences and what I have heard and read about it all, I feel sorry for those poor VETERANS, who have no choice but put up with the civil service laziness and incompetence.

    • tony

      With the hiring freeze, they cannot hire new employees. They could however transfer an current existing employee to fill the vacancy.

      Since there is no hiring freeze for the military, they can transfer the military personnel and replace them with a new hire.

    • tony

      Social Security need to recruit the best employees. They don’t need more lazy and incompetent employees.

    • tony

      They should be happy that they still have a job.

  3. Peter W.

    I am happy with what I receive from social security $1800 monthly, but you people should know it takes more than one check to make it after you retire. I hope you have a pension from a private company mine is $1750 a month like I do because that sure helps a lot.

    • Gary M.

      Social Security benefits were NEVER meant to be a person’s sole source of income after he/she retires. That is very clearly stated. I still am working full-time and am past my “normal” retirement age, therefore what I collect is not subject to any sort of penalty. Working past what S.S. says is your normal retirement age is not the worst thing that can happen for most people; contrary, it allows you to add alot to your savings for when you really are going to need it.

  4. Makram S.

    I didn’t receive my social security benefits since March 2013 till now ?

    • Ray F.

      Unfortunately, but for security reasons, we do not have access to personal records in this blog. Please contact your local Social Security office. If you are unable to visit the local office, you can call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213, representatives are available Monday through Friday between 7:00a.m. and 7:00p.m. Generally, you will have a shorter wait time if you call later in the day or later in the week. Thanks.

  5. Harold M.

    The reason that social security is in trouble is that congress over the years could not stand to see all that so called trust fund money sitting there. So they voted to take out the money , democrats and republicans alike , and spend it all, leaving only a paper I O U.

    • Ray F.

      Harold, Social Security is a pay-as-you-go system. Social Security taxes collected from today’s workers pay the benefits of today’s retirees. Any funds in excess of what is needed to pay today’s benefits are invested in special issue, U.S. Government, interest-bearing securities. This investment – the purchase of U.S. Government securities – is what constitutes the “borrowing” that people are sometimes concerned about. Any funds that have been “borrowed” from the Social Security Trust Funds have always been paid back in full, plus interest. Please check out our Trust Fund Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.

      • Harold M.

        What year did that policy go into effect ?

  6. Bangladesh

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  7. John

    As usual few constructive comments. Filing on line is simple only if you know what your doing. If someone has questions about survivor’s benefits, the pension offset and complex marriage situations, you’ll not get your answers on line. It is better to apply by appointment in person. Think about it, if you have questions do you want to get mechanical answers from a machine? That is where we are going as SSA continues to cut staff in order to justify closing offices down the road.

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your feedback, John. With more than 160,000 visitors on a daily basis, our more than 1,200 field offices nationwide are the cornerstone of our operation. Our employees in offices across the country handle millions of transactions yearly — taking applications, answering questions in person and on the phone, verifying benefit amounts, and reviewing appeals, among other things. We continue to work on providing relief to our frontline staff by expanding our use of alternate methods of service delivery to our customers, such as our online services, video service, self-help computers, and express customer service stations. Again, we appreciate your feedback and want to assure you that we are committed to providing superior customer service, whether it is online, on the telephone or in-person. Thanks!

  8. Pat E.

    Wow’ hope yo where toothpaste
    Unjointed going fuj

  9. Pat E.

    I will help anyways I can

  10. Cs

    Would love to apply on line but had to reset password twice because each reset resulted in a denial of access! Get it together as….10,000 people a day applying for benefits aren’t making your jobs with limited staffing any easier. Get the IT people on the ball! Respectfully, submitted.

    • Ray F.

      We apologize for any inconvenience. If you have trouble creating or accessing your account, please call 1-800-772-1213 for assistance. After you hear “Briefly tell me why you are calling,” say “Help Desk” for help with a my Social Security account. The help desk will be available to callers between 7:00 a.m. and 12:00 a.m. (Eastern Time). Thank you for using our online services!

      • mr. i.

        good luck with that. the website is a disgrace. I have been trying for days to get my ss 2016 benefit statement which they didn’t mail to me.

        • Clint

          The link is on the first page.
          Pretty darn clear, but you do need a computer and the internet.

          create a my Social Security account and view your Social Security Statement online at any time.

Comments are closed.