I used to put off intimidating tasks. I would pretend the task would disappear if I avoided it long enough. Let me tell you… it was not very effective.

While calling their office may seem intimidating, I hope this post provides simple direction and motivation for anyone who is ready to claim Social Security benefits (for retirement or disability).

Here is information on the 3 ways to start the application process: (because truly–starting something is always the hardest part).

1. Online: Good news for those who like to avoid too much human interaction 😊

  • Start Here: https://www.ssa.gov/onlineservices/
  • Fun fact: This could take as little as 15 minutes.
  • Benefits: You may pause and pick up where you left off and you can check your claim status online.
  • FYI: Make sure you have an online account first. If you don’t:
    • Create your account at https://www.ssa.gov/onlineservices/ .
    • The site will ask difficult questions to confirm your identity. Expect questions like what bank you used 15 years ago or the model of the car you owned in 2010. If you get a question wrong, don’t worry. You can try again the next day.

2. Phone:

  • Start Here: 1-800-772-1213
  • Unfun fact: The quality and efficiency of phone conversations can vary depending on which representative you speak with and the hold times.
  • Benefits: If you need help beyond the “robot” directions, you can ask a real person questions.

3. In-Person:

  • Start Here: Locate the nearest office.
  • Fun fact: The average field office wait time is 25 minutes. An appointment is strongly recommended.
  • Benefit: Face-to-face interaction can be clearer. You’ll probably find that the office isn’t so intimidating after all!

Using any of these methods, you may apply for benefits up to 4 months in advance.

For the differently-abled:

A little more information is needed to apply for disability benefits. Such things include:

  • W2 forms
  • Medical evidence
    • (If you don’t have evidence, it’s ok. The Social Security Administration will contact the medical sources you list to provide documentation).
  • A Disability Report (https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-3368.pdf).
    • This is extensive. Try filling out one page at a time and take mental breaks. If you mail this form, be sure you make a copy for yourself before sending the original.

In addition, the Social Security Administration’s site provides a full list of documents you’ll need and will answer more questions about applying for disability benefits here: https://www.ssa.gov/applyfordisability/.


Again, I know that this is an intimidating process. My goal here is to take a daunting task and display the information in a way that is a bit more comfortable. All of this info came straight from the Social Security Administration’s website. Hopefully it helped! Remember, the first step is always the hardest. Social Security is very helpful, but you should avoid depending upon it solely. You can read my thoughts on that HERE. Now go get started!