The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a lot to offer us, such as retirement benefits, disability benefits, survivor benefits, and more. But in general, we have to apply for what we want or need via forms, and we also have to submit various pieces of information along the way -- via more forms. Fortunately, the SSA makes it fairly easy through a webpage listing and linking to scores of Social Security forms, including selected "top forms."
Most of the Social Security forms on the page come with directions and information and can printed out and filled in. Then you can take them to your local Social Security office or you can mail them to the SSA.
Some forms, such as applications to change your address, get a replacement Medicare card, or apply for retirement benefits, are ones you can fill out and submit online.
Here are the "top forms", per the SSA:
- SS-5 Application for a Social Security Card
- SSA-827 Authorization to Disclose Information to The Social Security Administration
- SSA-561-U2 Request for Reconsideration
- SSA-1696-U4 Appointment of Representative
- SSA-3820-BK Disability Report-Child
- IRS W-4V Voluntary Withholding Request
If you think about it, these forms paint a promising picture -- one of an administration trying to make it easy for you to request reconsideration of a decision, to designate someone to help you deal with the SSA, and to have some of your benefits withheld as taxes so that you can avoid having to deal with paying quarterly estimated taxes.
Another form, which appears in the main list, is also telling: SSA-117-PC How are we doing?
It lists the administration's commitment to the people it serves, saying, for example, "When you make an appointment, we will service you within 10 minutes of the scheduled time," and that, "When you call our 800 number, you will get through to it within 5 minutes of your first try." It lists a number of measures on which it asks you to rate your satisfaction, and then invites you to send in your ratings.
Those are just a few of many available forms. Below are a few other forms that you'll find on the page, along with their form numbers:
- CMS-40B Application for Enrollment in Medicare-Part B (Medical Insurance)
- SSA-1-BK Application for Retirement Insurance Benefits
- SSA-2-BK Application for Wife's or Husband's Insurance Benefits
- SSA-10 Application for Widow's or Widower's Insurance Benefits
- SSA-16-BK Application for Disability Insurance Benefits
- SSA-24 Application for Survivors Benefits (Payable Under Title II of the Social Security Act)
- SSA-25 Certification of Election for Reduced Spouse's Benefits
- SSA-44 Medicare Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount-Life-Changing Event
- SSA-711 Request for Deceased Individual's Social Security Record
The Social Security Administration notes: "All forms are FREE. Not all forms are listed. If you can't find the form you need, call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or contact us. If you need help completing a form, please contact us and we will help you."
You may not need any of these forms at the moment, but it's instructive to scan through them to get a sense of the scope of the SSA's mission, and to see what kinds of benefits are or may be available to you, now or later.
If you're intimidated or confused, looking at such a long list of forms, remember that in your lifetime, you'll likely need to deal with relatively few of them -- and the Social Security Administration is doing what it can to make the process as manageable as possible, offering to explain and help, and allowing you to designate a representative (or to serve as a representative for someone else).
All in all, while filling out forms is rarely fun, the payoff here is usually well worth the effort.
Longtime Fool specialist Selena Maranjian, whom you can follow on Twitter, has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.