Representative Nita Lowey

Representing the 17th District of New York

Social Security

For general questions, the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) toll-free number is 1-800-772-1213. The most convenient way to get forms, locations of the nearest SSA offices, and other specific information is to visit Social Security's web site at www.ssa.gov.

Each year, Congresswoman Lowey’s office helps hundreds of constituents with inquiries about retirement and survivors benefits and the disability approval process.  If you have trouble getting answers about benefits, you can contact Congresswoman Lowey’s office for help at 914-428-1707 or 845-639-3485.


What is Social Security?

Social Security is the federal retirement program. It covers retirees, survivors, and the disabled, and works more like an insurance policy than a retirement pension. Americans pay into the Social Security Trust Fund and may collect benefits later in life or if you become disabled.  Survivors of those who have paid into the system may be eligible for assistance as well.  


How do I apply for Social Security Benefits?

You can apply for benefits online, in person or by telephone. When you apply, make sure you have your Social Security number and an original birth certificate. If you have further questions or are having difficulties with Social Security, please call the Congresswoman’s White Plains office at 914-428-1707 or New City office at 845-639-3485.


What kind of benefits does Social Security provide?

Full retirement triggers Social Security benefits. For those born before 1938, full retirement age is 65. For those born later, full retirement age is gradually increasing to 67.

Early retirement remains as early as 62 and your benefit is permanently reduced. For example, if you sign up for early retirement, benefits are reduced five-ninths of one percent for each month before you reach "full" retirement.

Survivors benefits are available to those who earned a certain level of work credits through their lifetime. If you earn enough credits while working, certain members of your family may be eligible for benefits based on your lifetime earnings after your death. Family members may include widows and widowers, unmarried children under age 18 and your parents.

Disability benefits are based on a person's inability to work, which is expected to last at least a year or to result in death. In order to qualify, you must have earned enough credits on your own work record.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is financed by general tax revenue – not Social Security trust funds – provides blind, disabled, or aged individuals with extremely low incomes funds for basic necessities including food, shelter and clothing. You must live in the U.S. and be a citizen or a qualified non-citizen to qualify, and there are income limits, which change from year to year.  Because the SSA manages SSI, applications are handled by the local Social Security office.