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.

Tags: , , ,

See Comments

About the Author

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications


  1. Debbie C.

    i have been trying for 3 days to contact your office to set up an appointment. I have been put on hold with your automated system and then it hangs up after 20 minutes. My husband has passed away and I came to your office for information and they told me if I decide to start collecting his ss benefits to make an appointment and we could get started
    Debbie C.

    • Ray F.

      We’re sorry for your loss, Debbie. We apologize for the difficulties you experienced when trying to reach someone by phone. We may have been experiencing higher than normal call volume.
      Unfortunately, you cannot apply for survivors’ benefits online. However, even setting up an appointment weeks in the future will establish a protective filing date, so we urge you to get on the calendar to protect your benefits. To learn more about widow’s benefits visit our Survivors Planner web page.
      Representatives at our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Generally, you will have a shorter wait time if you call later during the day or later during the week. Please try again.

  2. J. B.

    Just starting the application process. The person assigned to process my application was not available for a telephone appointment she set up. This was two hours ago, and she never did call back, even though a voice message was left (her co-worker said she was just out for a walk). When one applies for social security, you are held hostage by the processor and the system. Very frustrating. But maybe that’s what I get for submitting an online application. My husband wants me to talk to a SS supervisor, but I’m very worried that this will affect how well my application is processed, and I’m not sure anyone would really care. My reward for working 47 years. Geesh…

    • Ray F.

      We apologize and we regret to hear about your unpleasant experience. We understand your frustration and encourage you to bring this issue to the office manager. You can also submit feedback by visiting our “Contact Social Security” page at Once there, select the “Email Us” link. This will take you to the “Email Our Support Team” form. Thank you.

  3. Ruben

    I retired in 1995. When I turned 65 I applied for SSW I was told that I qualified for 1600.00 a month. I retired from the C ity of LA. I have a pension that I paid for. When I applied for SS I was told that I could receive 1600 a month. Then I was told that since I had a pension from the city of LA I could only get 150.00 a month. I was told that if I did not work I could get 1600.00 a month. I paid for my SS for somebody else. The system sucks. I think we should be entitled to what we earned. People on SS who have never worked are getting my pension. This is BS

  4. janet F.

    I have not read any comments on when a person is on disability WHEN THEY CAN RETIRE and get on SS. Would SS be more than Disibility?

    • Ray F.

      Hi Janet. For those individuals receiving disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, we automatically convert their disability benefits to retirement benefits when they attain their Full Retirement Age. Generally, the benefit amount remains the same. Disability payments are established at the highest rate possible, based on your earnings record.

  5. James G.

    A word to the wise-Don’t ever apply on line;

    Here is why.The Social Security Administration Would Frighten Franz Kafka
    and Amuse “Ernestine.”

    It might seem a stretch to conflate the Social Security Administration with the writer Franz Kafka, the author of TheTrial and the Castle , and the comedienne Lily Tomlin’s portrayal of “Ernestine”, a phone company “spokes person,” but walk with me down absurdity lane.

    In his two works, Kafka focuses on the absurdity of the world exacerbated by anonymous, domineering, insensitive bureaucracies pursuing governmental policies that are at best illogical and at worse, patently unfair, unforgiving, and often deadly. Lilly Tomlin’s “Ernestine”, frequently opined disdainfully about customer complaints by saying, “ we don’t care, we’re the phone company.” These two themes, faceless bureaucracies inefficiently and unfairly doing a government’s business, reinforced by a monopolistic attitude of not caring about citizen redress, applies to the Social Security (SS ) Administration. As a Kafkaesque governmental entity its leadership doesn’t care about legitimate complaints , because , to channel “Ernestine”- “we don’t care, we’re the Social Security Administration”.

    A recent article in the Baltimore Sun highlighted the absence of a permanent Social Security Administrator, and that there is a 20 month backlog in reviewing disability claims. For me, this backlog has nothing to do with a lack of leadership or personnel, but is a deliberate ploy to stone wall legitimate claims so as to make the claimant go away because of sheer despondency at getting a resolution to the appeal.

    I am a retired Baltimore Police Sergeant and when working I did not contribute to the SS system. But after retiring I earned enough quarters to qualify for SS benefits and consequently Medicare. I applied , on- line, for benefits on January 3rd 2010, and answered yes to the questions regarding pension benefits. In an anonymous letter dated March 15, 2016, SS stated that I allegedly owed $27,577.00 in over payments based on the Windfall Elimination Provision because of my pension, and I had 30 days to repay. I say allegedly when I refer to any of the figures quoted by SS because I have no idea of their accuracy. Included with the letter was a repayment envelope and I didn’t have to use a stamp-how considerate. Now this SS saga became Kafkaesque, instead of just consummate incompetency.

    SS has a multitiered appeal protocol. I filed on March 29, 2016 and stated SS was at fault for the alleged overpayment. Naively, I thought requesting an informal meeting, per a SS’s appeal protocol, would resolve the issue. Approximately eight months later, in a letter dated November 15, 2016, SS admitted fault in processing my application without taking into account my pension. However, I would be getting a letter explaining my “new overpayment”- a decision that I could again appeal. These SS letters are sent regular snail mail with SS assuming you get them without proof of delivery. Nice gambit, particularly when you are given a 30/60 day window to appeal.

    A letter dated January 24, 2017 claimed I allegedly owed $23,841.00. No mention of my informal meeting request or that the alleged overpayment added to my gross income for tax purposes. SS used $3,736.00 of my benefits to recover part of the alleged overpayment, and if I didn’t remit the $23k plus in 30 days, my entire SS benefit would be used to recover the money.But, I could appeal for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALD) to contest.

    This depressing Kafkaesque joke became more surreal. On February 2nd, I submitted an appeal for an ALD hearing with supportive documentation to my assigned SS office. On Saturday , February 4th, I received a letter from SS ,dated February 3, 2017, and with this letter the hammer fell . My benefit was terminated effective the March 2017 payment, including my Medicare premium, until November 2020. Consequently,I will have to pay out of pocket for my Medicare health coverage and I recently received the first premium bill with billing date if 1/27/2017. Meaning, that SS /Medicare processed a premium bill 3 days after the date of the last SS letter I received stating I could appeal. So much for this scam of an appeal system. The insane thing is that there are two more appeal steps I am entitled to, but I know what they are worth. Your appeal is denied even before your appeal steps are exhausted, and you are punished accordingly based on an anonymous whim. – Kafka smiles in his grave. No wonder there are signs in SS offices stating that it is a federal crime to assault SS employees, and no firearms allowed.

    Compared to what many Americans experience at the anonymous “hands” of the Social Security Administration, my SS absurdity pales, but it exemplifies what the Administration thinks of the American public, “we don’t care, we are the Social Security Administration.”

  6. Moses

    Rachel, WordPress is not longer used just to create a simple WordPress blogs. It is used by millions of websites and many of theme are highly trafficked ones.

  7. Denny

    I will be 66 in March2017. My wife will turn 66 in October 2017. She plans to file for her SS . I plan on waiting until I am 70 to file for my SS. When my wife files for her SS at 66, I plan to file for spousal SS based on her record. Can we file on line for both or do we need to make an appointment?

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your question Denny. You and your wife –both- should be able to apply online. If you reach your full retirement age and if you are eligible for a spouse’s benefit and your own retirement benefit, you may have the option to file for only spouse’s benefits and wait to file for your own benefit at a later time, to increase your own retirement benefit amount. Since you were 62 prior to January 2, 2016, deemed filing rules will not apply if you file at full retirement age or later. This means that you may file for either your spouse’s benefit or your retirement benefit without being required or “deemed” to file for the other. Visit our Retirement Planner for more information. Our system is set up to take applications three months in advance. If you cannot apply online or you decide not to finish applying online, for whatever reason, you can apply in person at any Social Security office or by calling our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 for assistance. Representatives are available between 7a.m. and 7p.m., Monday through Friday. Generally, you’ll have a shorter wait time if you call later in the week. Happy retirement!

  8. tony

    Instead of raising up the retirement age for Social Security, Congress can double up on the amount of credits needed to collect Social Security retirement to 80 credits.

    More people would not qualify decreasing the roll. If they don’t work for at least 20 years, then they lose all their contributions.

    • tony

      Here is another idea. The SSA can keep the 40 credits the same. Going forward from this point, the maximum credit they can earn per year is 2 credits.

      People who have already earn their credits and have 40 credits are not affected.

  9. Allan H.

    I have had different agents of SS tell me different information, when I first applied for SS after reaching full retirement age. I was informed that deductions for SS would not be taken from my regular job paycheck since I had reached the required age for SS. The company continued to deduct for SS, and asking the company rep., said they had no info to that effect. Then asking another SS rep, informed me that as long as you are working deductions will be made for SS.
    The result of this process is your net gain for receiving SS prior to retirement from your job results in a much smaller net gain. Also the fact that my income more than doubled over the next 10 years seemed to make no difference in my SS benefits. So those considering taking SS payments when they become eligible might want to do more intensive research.

  10. Gary M.

    I recently applied for retirement benefits and, in fact, just received my first payment today. I wound up using a combination of both “in person” and online application. It would be a good idea to do a “dry run” of the online process to see if there are questions that may arise. I know that happened for me, so I just wrote all of my concerns down on paper and trudged to a local Social Security office, “bit the bullet” and waited for two hours to be seen. It turned out to be one of the best “waits” of my life. I got an agent who went through everything. I learned about benefits and methods of payment I never even knew existed. I don’t know where the people on this blog went to for their little, or no, information, but the office I went to was First Rate! With all of the info that I received, I went home and took my time deciding which option I wanted to go with. Once I made my decision, then I did the actual application online. I had all of the documents handy that it asked for and within a half hour everything was completed. A few days later I received a call from a processing center so we could “dot the i’s and cross the t’s” and that was it. And a week after that my money started flowing into my checking account. This process worked for me, it may work for you too! Remember the old saying: Forewarned is forearmed. Gather the documents that they require ahead of time and it will make the process as simple as possible.

    • Ann C.

      Thanks for your feedback, Gary! Your thoughts are important to us and we’re pleased when feedback is positive. We try hard to provide the best possible service to our customers and your satisfaction is our reward.

Comments are closed.