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Information You'll Need When You Apply for Spouse's or Divorced Spouse's Benefits


You can apply:

If you apply by phone or in person, we want your visit to go as smoothly as possible. You can help by being ready to answer the following questions and having as many of the needed documents as possible.

We may also ask you to provide documents to show that you are eligible:

  • Birth certificate or other proof of birth;
  • Naturalization papers;
  • U.S. military discharge paper(s);
  • W-2 forms(s) and/or self-employment tax returns for last year.

We accept photocopies of W-2 forms, self-employment tax returns or medical documents, but we must see the original of most other documents, such as your birth certificate. (We will return them to you.)

Don’t delay filing your claim just because you don’t have all the documents. We’ll help you get them.


When you apply for spouse's benefits, we will ask you:

  • Your name and social security number;
  • Your name at birth (if different);
  • Your spouse's name, date of birth and social security number;
  • Your date of birth and place of birth (State or foreign country);
  • Whether a public or religious record was made of your birth before age 5;
  • Your citizenship status;
  • Whether you or anyone else has ever filed for Social Security benefits, Medicare or Supplemental Security Income on your behalf. (If so, we will also ask for information on whose Social Security record you applied);
  • Whether you have used any other Social Security number;
  • Whether you became unable to work because of illnesses, injuries or conditions at any time within the past 14 months. If ”Yes," we will also ask the date you became unable to work;
  • Whether you were ever in the active military service before 1968 or worked for the railroad industry. (If so, we will ask for the dates of service and whether you are eligible to receive or received a pension from a military or Federal civilian agency.);
  • Whether you have earned social security credits under another country's social security system;
  • Whether you qualified for or expect to receive a pension or annuity based on your own employment with the Federal government of the United States or one of its States or local subdivisions;
  • The names, dates of birth (or age) and social security numbers (if known) of any former spouses;
  • The dates of each of your marriages and, for marriages that have ended, how and when they ended;
  • The names of any unmarried children under 16 or age 16 and older and disabled before age 22 in your care;
  • The amount of your earnings for this year, last year and next year;
  • Whether you have any unsatisfied felony warrants for your arrest or unsatisfied Federal or State warrants for your arrest for any violations of the conditions of your parole or probation;
  • The month you want your benefits to begin; and
  • If you are within 3 months of age 65, whether you want to enroll in Supplemental Medical Insurance (Part B of Medicare)

Depending on the information you provide, we may need to ask other questions.

You also should bring along your checkbook or other papers that show your account number at a bank, credit union or other financial institution so you can sign up for Direct Deposit, and avoid worries about lost or stolen checks and mail delays.
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Last reviewed or modified Wednesday Feb 27, 2008
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