Application for Benefits

To receive Social Security or Black Lung benefits, Supplemental Security Income payments, or Medicare, you must complete and sign an application. You can apply for retirement benefits and spouse’s benefits online at applytoretire, in person, or by telephone at 1-800-772-1213. Our TTY number is 1-800-325-0778. Many other services now are available through the Internet at

For more information see How To on our home page or go to

Base Years

A worker’s (wage earner) base years for computing Social Security benefits are the years after 1950 up to the year of entitlement to retirement or disability insurance benefits. For a survivor’s claim, the base years include the year of the worker’s death.


Social Security provides five major categories of benefits:

  • Retirement,

  • Disability,

  • Family (dependents),

  • Survivors, and

  • Medicare.

The retirement, family (dependents), survivor, and disability programs provide monthly cash benefits and Medicare provides medical coverage.


We use the term “child” to include your biological child or any other child who can inherit your personal property under state law or who meets certain specific requirements under the Social Security Act; such as:

  • A legally adopted child,

  • An equitably adopted child,

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement