How Can I Apply For Benefits If I Can't File Online?

Apr 11 2020 - 7:50am

Larry, I reach 70 in a few months and need to file for Social Security under my own record, having delayed my benefit to receive maximum DRCs. I am currently receiving spousal benefits only. I understood from a previous question that I can’t apply online, and must either apply in person or by phone. Do you have any information about how those of us who must call to apply are faring during the COVID-19 pandemic? Any words of advice on how to ensure this goes smoothly? Thanks for the great advice that is enabling us to increase our income in our later years.

Hi Anne,

I'm glad you asked that question. Social Security's website claims that they are constantly expanding their online services, and filing for retirement benefits after filing for spousal benefits is no longer listed as an exception to filing online. Therefore, you may want to first try filing your application online at

If you're unable to use online filing, the only good current option is to apply by phone. The problem is that Social Security's phone system is stressed to the max these days, so hold times are usually quite lengthy. The good news is that you can apply up to 6 months after the month you reach age 70 without suffering any loss of benefits, so there's no great urgency to get your claim filed.

Best, Jerry