SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home1500. Filing an Application

1500.1 Why do you need to file an application for benefits?

You must file an application to:

  1. Become entitled to benefits, including Medicare;

  2. Establish a period of disability under the retirement, survivors, and disability insurance programs; or

  3. Become eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments.

1500.2 How do you apply for benefits?

Fill out the application on a form issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA). (See §1511.) File the completed and signed application form via the internet at www.socialsecurity.gov, at a Social Security office, or with a person authorized by us to receive applications. If you need an interpreter to communicate with us, we will provide one upon request, free of charge. SSA has a nationwide contract for telephone interpreter services in more than 150 languages and dialects. Based on SSA's signature alternatives to the traditional pen-and-ink signature, for teleclaims and in-person Title II (Retirement and Disability), Title XVI (Supplemental Security Income), and Title XVIII (Medicare) claims, the application is signed once the SSA interviewer confirms and annotates the system electronically of the claimant's intent to file, his or her affirmation of the correctness of the information that is provided under penalty of perjury, and agreement to sign the application. (See §§1505-1506 and 1511-1512.) When the signature is recorded electronically, it is no longer necessary for SSA to retain the paper application. Also, some applications for Social Security benefits are available to you on our Internet website; therefore, you can apply for some Social Security benefits online. For claims that are filed on the Internet website the application is signed when you press the "Sign Now" button.

1500.3 Do you have to file an application for hospital and medical insurance if you are 65 or older?

If you are age 65 or older and entitled to monthly benefits under Social Security or railroad retirement, you are automatically entitled to hospital insurance and medical insurance. You do not need to file a separate application for these benefits. If you are eligible for monthly benefits and are age 65 or older, you may apply for hospital insurance (Medicare Part A) and medical insurance (Medicare Part B) without applying for monthly benefits.

If you are age 65 or older and not entitled to monthly benefits under Social Security or railroad retirement, you need to file an application for hospital and medical insurance. You must be willing to pay the monthly premiums involved. (See Chapter 24.)

1500.4 Where can you find additional information about hospital and medical insurance benefits, the prescription drug benefit and extra help with prescription drug costs?

Chapter 24 includes information concerning entitlement to hospital and medical insurance (Medicare) for persons entitled to disability benefits and persons with end-stage renal disease requiring renal dialysis or kidney transplant. It also includes information about the prescription drug benefit. Chapter 26 includes information about extra help with prescription drug costs.

Last Revised: Apr. 12, 2010