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What will you need when you apply?

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We may ask you to provide certain documents to show that you are eligible for Social Security and to help us decide how much your benefits should be. The documents you'll need will depend on the circumstances of your claim, but here are some items you should have available:

  • your Social Security card (or a record of your number);
  • your birth certificate;
  • proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if you were not born in the U.S.;
  • your military discharge papers if you had military service before 1968; and
  • your W-2 form from last year, or your last year's tax return if you're self-employed.

You'll need to submit original documents or copies certified by the issuing office. You can mail or bring them to Social Security. We'll make photocopies and return your original documents.

What if you don't have all of the documents?

If you don't have all the documents you need, don't delay signing up for Social Security.

In many cases, your local Social Security office can contact your state Bureau of Vital Statistics and verify your information online at no cost to you. If we can't verify your information online, we can still help you get the information you need.

Go to the next step.

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Last reviewed or modified Friday Sep 12, 2008
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