Skip to content

What do I need to apply for Social Security and how long does it take to receive benefits?

Millions of seniors and disabled Americans receive Social Security payments every year.

The three types of Social Security are retirement, survivor, and disability benefits.

Applying may feel overwhelming to some, but if you’re prepared it can go smoothly.

Related: Social Security and food stamp SNAP benefits will be available to Americans quicker

Here is how applying for Social Security works and what you need to apply

The rule of thumb for the Social Security Administration to process your application and start benefits is about six weeks.

The timing does vary.

If you give any incorrect information on your application, it will delay it.

If the SSA needs additional or new information from you it will also delay it.

Related: How can I get my Social Security checks faster?


The SSA also receives large quantities of new applications on a daily basis, making it so at some points the wait time just may end up being longer.

To apply you will need your birth certificate, proof of citizenship or lawful alien status, your Social Security number, and your financial documents. This includes your W-2 forms and tax returns.

For disability benefits you need to show your adult disability report along with medical evidence of said disability.

This may include medical records or test results.

Related: Under this new order, new Social Security and food stamp SNAP beneficiaries will see benefits faster

Categories: News