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Information You'll Need When You Apply for Mother's or Father's Benefits


Whether it’s 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 mother's or father's benefits, we will ask you:

  • Your name and social security number;
  • The deceased worker's name, gender and social security number;
  • Your name at birth (if different);
  • Your date of birth and place of birth (State or foreign country);
  • Your citizenship status;
  • Whether you have used any other Social Security number;
  • 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 ever worked for the railroad industry;
  • 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 the worker has a surviving parent who was dependent on the worker for 1/2 of his or her support at the time of the worker's death. (If “Yes”, the name of the parent and their address.);
  • 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 of your or the worker's former spouses;
  • The dates of each of your marriages and, for marriages that have ended, how and when they ended;
  • The dates of each of the worker's marriages and how and when they ended
  • The names of any unmarried children under 16 or 16 and older and disabled before age 22 in your care and the months the child lived with you;
  • The amount of your earnings for this year, last year and next year; and
  • Whether you and the deceased worker were living together at the time of death; and
  • 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.

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 Monday Jan 14, 2008
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