Q: What type of information will I need to provide if I'd like to apply online for Social Security retirement benefits?
A: Whether you apply for retirement benefits online, by phone or in an office, we suggest that you have the following information at hand when you do it — it will make completing the application easier for you:
Your birthdate, place of birth and Social Security number;
Your bank account number and your bank’s routing number, for direct deposit;
The amount of money you earned last year and this year. If you are applying for benefits in the months of September through December, you may also need to provide an estimate of what you expect to earn next year if you plan to continue working;
The name and address of your employer(s) for this year and last year;
The beginning and ending dates of any active military service you had prior to 1968; and
The name, Social Security number and date of birth of your current and any former spouses.
Depending on your situation, you may need to provide additional documentation with your application. We'll give you instructions on how to mail or bring it to us. To get started, visit the Retirement Planner at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2.
This column was prepared by the Social Security Administration. For fast answers to specific Social Security questions, call Social Security (toll-free at 800) 772-1213 or go to www.socialsecurity.gov.