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AARP's Social Security Q&A Tool

What documents do I need to have in order to file for Social Security benefits on a former spouse's record?

En español | When you apply for ex-spouse benefits, the Social Security Administration may ask you to provide the following documents to show that you are eligible: birth certificate or other proof of birth; naturalization papers; U.S. military discharge papers; W-2 forms and/or self-employment tax returns for the previous year; final divorce decree; and marriage certificate. SSA will accept photocopies of W-2 forms, self-employment tax returns or medical documents, but its officials must see the original of most other documents, such as your birth certificate. (SSA will return them to you.) If you do not have copies of your divorce decree or marriage certificate, SSA will try to obtain these documents for you so that your benefit can be filed. You also should bring along your checkbook or other papers that show your account number at a bank, credit union or other financial institution so you can sign up for direct deposit and avoid worries about lost or stolen checks and mail delays. (Source:

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