Should I File Online Or In Person?

May 28 2019 - 3:17pm

Hi Larry, I will be turning 66 at the beginning of August and plan on filing for retirement coverage shortly, to commence in August. We have 2 kids under 18, so I will also be filing for child benefits for them, also to start in August. After reading all the horror stories in your excellent book about filing over the phone or even at the local SSA office, I was planning to file online for my benefits. However, I saw that child benefits cannot be applied for online, so should I apply for all 3 of us in person at the local SSA office so they get processed as a group?

Also, there is only room on the SSA-4-BK form for one Direct Deposit account, and I believe we need separate accounts for each child. Can this just be noted in the Remarks section?

Thanks for your help, and for a great, helpful book and website (one of the best $40 I've ever spent!)


It probably won't make much difference whether you file online or by telephone or in-person with Social Security. If you do file online and list your children's names on your application, Social Security will probably contact you to solicit applications on behalf of the children. If they don't, you'll need to contact them and apply on your children's behalf either by phone or in-person.

Almost no one actually files on behalf of their children using a paper form SSA-4, so doing that would likely just create confusion. You will need to keep separate bank accounts for each child if you will be saving any of their benefits for their future needs, but Social Security should explain your options to you when you apply for benefits for your children.

Best, Jerry