Social Security is a program run by the federal government. The program works by using taxes paid into a trust fund to provide benefits to people who are eligible.
While you work, you pay Social Security taxes. This tax money goes into a trust fund that pays benefits to:
- Those who are currently retired
- To people with disabilities
- To the surviving spouses and children of workers who have died
Each year you work, you’ll get credits to help you become eligible for benefits when it’s time for you to retire. Find all the benefits Social Security Administration (SSA) offers
There are four main types of benefits that the SSA offers:
Before you start your application, we recommend that you take a moment to prepare yourself by reviewing a few items:
- Make sure you meet the requirements to apply online for Retirement;
- Gather all of the information you need to complete the application process.
Apply & Complete
Create my social account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount/create.html
After signing up for (or signing in) your my Social Security account, applying for Retirement Benefits may take between 10 to 30 minutes to complete depending on your situation. You can save your application as you go, so you can take a break at any time.
Learn how to set up direct deposit to receive your federal benefits.
If You Have a Bank or Credit Union Account:
If You Don’t have a Bank or Credit Union Account:
- Direct Express debit card – a pre-paid debit card. Get help by calling the Go Direct Helpline at 1-800-333-1795 (TTY: 1-866-569-0447).
Make Changes to an Existing Direct Deposit Account:
On Go Direct’s FAQ page, learn how to make changes to an existing direct deposit account. You also may contact the federal agency that pays your benefit for help with your enrollment.
Social Security Retirement Benefits Planner
How much Social Security income you’ll receive depends on:
- Your earnings over your lifetime
- The age at which you’ll begin receiving benefits
- Whether you’ll be eligible to receive a spouse’s benefit instead of your own
- Estimate your benefits at each age, from 62 (the earliest you can receive them) to 70 (when you hit your greatest amount)
- Apply for retirement benefits
- Learn about earning limits if you plan to work while receiving Social Security benefits
Social Security Benefits for People with Disabilities
If you have a disability, Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income may help financially. To find out if you’re eligible for either program, use the Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool.
Definition of Disability
To qualify for either program, you must meet SSA’s definition of disability:
- You’re unable to do substantial gainful activity (work)
- Your disability is expected to last for at least one year or result in death
- Your impairment is on Social Security’s list of disabling medical conditions
Social Security uses a step-by-step process to decide if you have a disability.