A question mark drawn in white chalk on a blackboard.

Social Security Q&A Part 11

By: Vonda VanTil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

Question: How do I change my citizenship status on Social Security’s records?

Answer: To change your citizenship status shown in Social Security records:

Complete an application for a Social Security card (Form SS-5), which you can find online at www.socialsecurity.gov/online/ss-5.html; and

  • Provide documents proving your:
  • New or revised citizenship status (We can only accept certain documents as proof of citizenship. These include your U.S. passport, a Certificate of Naturalization, or a Certificate of Citizenship. If you are not a U.S. citizen, Social Security will ask to see your current immigration documents);
  • Age; and
  • Identity.

Next, take (or mail) your completed application and documents to your local Social Security office.

All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.

Question: I’ve decided I want to retire. Now what do I do?

Answer: The fastest and easiest way to apply for retirement benefits is to go to www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices. Use our online application to apply for Social Security retirement or spouses benefits. To do so, you must:

  • Be at least 61 years and 9 months old;
  • Want to start your benefits in the next four months; and
  • Live in the United States or one of its commonwealths or territories.

Question: Is it true that ten thousand people are retiring each day? What is the best way for me to apply and avoid long lines in my Social Security office?

Answer: Yes. The best way is to use our online retirement application at www.socialsecurity.gov. You can complete it in as little as 15 minutes. It’s so easy. You can apply from the comfort of your home or office at a time most convenient for you. Once you’ve electronically submitted your application, you’re done. In most cases, there’s no need to submit any documents. There’s also no need to drive to a local Social Security office or wait for an appointment with a Social Security representative.

Vonda VanTil is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan.  You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov