Social Security Benefits
A Brief Overview

How to Apply for Benefits
You may apply for benefits by telephone or by going to any Social Security office. Some of the documents and information you will need are outlined below. You should begin the application process without delay. This will enable you to determine the documents you have and which documents you will need to obtain. Your Social Security office can help you with this.

Information Needed
You will need to submit original documents or copies certified by the issuing office. You can bring them to the Social Security office or mail them. If mailed, a certified return receipt requested is advised. Social Security will make photocopies and return your documents to you.

  • Your Social Security number and the deceased worker's Social Security number and a death certificate (your funeral director can provide you with a statement)
  • Proof of the deceased worker's earnings for the last year
    (e.g., W-2 forms for self-employed tax return)
  • Your birth certificate
  • A marriage certificate if you are applying for benefits as a widow, widower, divorced wife or
    divorced husband
  • A divorce decree if you are applying for benefits as a divorced wife or husband
  • Children's birth certificates and Social Security numbers if applying for children's benefits
  • A checking or savings account number if you elect direct deposit of SS benefits
    (you will need the bank's address and transit number)

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
If you are 65 or older, disabled, or blind, ask the social security representative about the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) on checks for people with limited income and resources. If you receive SSI, you may qualify for Medicaid, food stamps and other social services.


For More Information
Write, visit or telephone any Social Security office. The toll-free number is 1-800-772-1213. You can speak with a representative 7AM to 7PM.

A Reminder

If the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, any checks that arrived after the date of death may need to be returned to the Social Security office. If Social Security checks were being directly deposited into a bank account, the bank needs to be notified of the death.