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Social Security: What You Can Do Online

Online access lets you handle account from home

Social Security Mailbox: Can I Apply for Benefits Online

Alamy

Can I Apply for Benefits Online?

En español | Q. I hear that Social Security is offering people access online to their personal information. What exactly can I see online and how do I get this access?

A: An online account, known officially as "my Social Security," gives active workers and retirees access to information about their earnings, and current and future benefits. The personal accounts are part of a major effort by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to move many of its information services to the internet. The accounts allow you to get information without making phone calls or visiting Social Security offices. Since the SSA first rolled out the accounts in May 2012, it has continued to expand the number of things you can do online. For instance, you can apply for benefits, check on your application or on your appeal of an agency decision and, in some cases, request a replacement Social Security card.

Currently, a "my Social Security" account lets you view your personal Social Security statements online. These statements estimate what you'd get if you were to take your benefits at age 62 or your full retirement age or 70. They also show likely benefits if you become disabled. And they spell out the survivor benefits that would go to your family if you die. Social Security reports that people have accessed statements online more than 130 million times since they first became available that way in May 2012. View a sample statement.

For years, Social Security mailed printed statements to workers annually, but budget problems caused the agency to limit paper statements. SSA announced in January 2017 that it now would mail statements only to people age 60 and older, who are not receiving benefits yet and do not have an online account. This is expected to save the agency $11.3 million in the current fiscal year.

If you already receive benefits, an account lets you obtain benefit verification letters, which can serve as proof of income when applying for a mortgage or other type of loan or other benefits. You can also use the account to change your address, telephone number and direct deposit information.

To create an account, you must be at least 18, have a valid email address, a Social Security number and a U.S. mailing address..

Stan Hinden, a former columnist for The Washington Post, wrote How to Retire Happy: The 12 Most Important Decisions You Must Make Before You Retire. Have a question for the Social Security Mailbox? Check the archive. If you don't find your answer there, send a query.

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