Filing for Benefits and Helpful Tips

Most of our articles deal with Social Security claiming strategies and how to improve you income stream but thought we would take a break and offer some helpful tips to make the process easier to navigate.

  1. Need your date and place of birth and Social Security number.
  2. Your bank or other financial institution’s Routing Transit Number and your account number as your benefit will be electronically deposited.
  3. The amount of money earned in the last calendar year and what you expect to earn in the year of filing.  If filing in September through December, you will also need to estimate next year’s earnings.
  4. The name and address of your employer(s) for the year of filing and the previous year.
  5. The beginning and ending dates of any active U S. military service you had before 1968.
  6. The name, Social Security number and date of birth of your current spouse and any former spouse.  You should also know the dates and places of marriage and dates of divorce or death if applicable.
  7. A copy of your Social Security statement.  If you don’t have a current one, will need to set up an account at and print out report.

Sometimes the following documents are also requested:

  1. Your original birth certificate or other proof of birth.  
  2. Your original citizenship or naturalization papers, if you were not born in the United States.
  3. A copy of your U. S. military service paper(s) such as DD-214-Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty if you had military service before 1968.
  4. A copy of your W-2 form(s) and or self-employment tax return for the year prior to filing.

Keep these documents together in a folder so they are handy at the time of filing.  If you do not have one of these documents you can still start the process and indicate at the time of filing that you are in the process of securing the requested document.

You can either file on line, over the telephone or in person at your local Social Security office.  If you do this online, you will be given an application number.  Make sure you write this number down in order to access the process again, if incomplete.

When you reach the question about when you want to begin benefits, be careful.  The answer will be automatically populated with a start date.  Unless your selected claiming strategy is to begin benefits on this date, you will need to change the date to reflect your selected strategy.

At the end of the process you will see a summary of your answers and will have the opportunity to edit your responses.  Also, there is an area for remarks where you can enter additional information if necessary.

Remember, this decision is basically permanent.  Just make sure you read what you sign!!  We recommend that our clients go directly to the SS office to file, simply because of errors that can be made online.

With a customized report, you will receive a summary of your options you have chosen, and you can simply hand this to the person at the counter.  This process simply eliminates all confusion about what you are filling for.  You can email us at or for more information.  Our website is

Posted on by hgasaway

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