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Applying for Benefits

Posted on:11/1/2012
It is advisable to contact the nearest Social Security office two or three months before the planned retirement date to apply for benefits.


It is advisable to contact the nearest Social Security office two or three months before the planned retirement date to apply for benefits. When visiting the office, the insured worker should bring the birth or baptismal certificate, a marriage certificate if applying for a wife's or widow's benefits, and the birth certificates of any children for whom benefits are sought.

 

The office will also require the worker's W-2 tax form for the previous year, or, for the self-employed, a copy of the most recent Federal Income Tax return, so that earnings records can be updated and benefits calculated. If any of these documents are missing, there is no need to delay applying for benefits, since required proof can usually be established by other means.

 

An applicants whose application is denied or those dissatisfied with Social Security or Supplemental Security Income decisions may appeal through a process that advances through several steps. The final decision may be reached by suit in a U.S. District Court if the review at lower levels has proved unsatisfactory.

 

The first step of appeal is for reconsideration by other Social Security personnel who were not involved in the original decision. The second step is a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, with testimony taken under oath. A lawyer, if desired, may accompany and represent the person making the appeal. The last step before suit in a District court is review, or refusal to review, by the Appeals Council, which meets in Washington, D.C.


  
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