Skip the Trip! Retire Online
Last Updated: August 4, 2021
On 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.