Straightforward Instructions for Applying Online

Oct 23, 2018 / Amanda Chase, Horsesmouth Assistant Editor

Roughly 10,000 to 15,000 people become eligible each day to file for Social Security benefits, and more and more of them are applying online. As straightforward as the process may seem, sometimes it helps to have written instructions. Here they are, with additional notes for filing a restricted application (available to those born before 1954).

The online Social Security application is meant to be used by people applying for the first time. When filing this way, it is recommended that you file your application three months in advance of when you would like benefits to start. When you apply for retirement benefits online, you will be asked questions about yourself along with your spouse, children, ex-spouse (if any), work, earnings and any other pensions or annuity income you may receive from employment as public-sector employee.

Notably, the application does not have to be completed in one sitting. If you leave the application process, you will be given an “Application Number” that you need to write down or print, as you will not be able to re-enter your application form without it. Completing the application on the Social Security Administration’s secure website should only take about 30 minutes.

As you make your way through the application, you will discover links prompting you to learn “More Info.” By clicking on these links, you can find additional information to guide you through the process. The website also has many calculators and offers the ability to print your Social Security statement. Upon completing the application, you will see a summary and will have the ability to make changes by using the “Edit” button. When you have finished completing the application, a Social Security representative will review it and call you for any clarification. You may also have to bring additional information to the Social Security office, such as a marriage certificate, in order to process spousal benefits.

When filing for a restricted benefit:

  • Do you want your benefts to start in [month of filing]? Answer yes or no depending on when you want benefits to start. If you answer “no,” you will see a dropdown box offering various dates to choose.
  • Please let us know if there are any specific reasons for this date. Click on the option for “Another reason.”
  • If you are eligible for both retirement benefits and spouse’s benefit, do you want to delay receipt of retirement benefit?Answer this question with YES.
  • On the last screen, under the “Remarks” section, type, “I wish to exclude retirement benefits from the scope of this application. I am filing a restricted application for spousal benefits only. I am not applying for retirement benefits on my own work record. I wish to earn delayed retirement credits.”

For the full Forbes article, click here.


This material is provided exclusively for use by individuals with an active license to the Savvy Social Security Planning Program. Use of this material is subject to the Social Security Planning Program Agreement and applicable copyright laws. Unauthorized use, reproduction or distribution of this material is a violation of federal law and punishable by civil and criminal penalty. This material is furnished “as is” without warranty of any kind. Its accuracy and completeness is not guaranteed and all warranties express or implied are hereby excluded.

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