Social Security Supports Rural Communities

Rural community member viewing their farm

By Nancy Berryhill, Senior Advisor, Office of the Commissioner

Social Security touches the lives of nearly every American. Millions count on us —retirees who worked hard their whole lives, people no longer able to work due to disability, dependents, and survivors. As members of the Rural Partners Network, we want to continue reaching out to rural communities.

We make it easy for rural community leaders to help others access our programs and services. Our website offers a convenient way to apply for benefits online. Leaders can help others apply online for:

Retirement or Spouse’s Benefits – A person must be at least 61 years and nine months in age and want their benefits to start in no more than four months. Check out our Apply for Benefits page for information on how to apply.

Disability Benefits – Our disability program pays benefits to workers and certain family members if they are “insured.” This means that they worked long enough – and recently enough – and paid Social Security taxes on their earnings. They can use our online application to begin the process.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – SSI provides monthly payments to adults and children who have little or no income, are age 65 or older, blind, or have disabilities. If a person meets certain requirements, they may begin their application online. They can also let us know they want to apply by answering a few questions and we will schedule an appointment to help complete the application.

Medicare – Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people age 65 or older, some people younger than 65 who have disabilities, and people with end-stage renal disease. If the person is not already receiving Social Security benefits, they should apply for Medicare three months before turning age 65 on our Medicare Benefits page.

Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Costs – Extra Help helps pay for monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and co-payments related to Medicare prescription drug coverage. They can apply on the Social Security Administration's website.

We also encourage rural community leaders to help others sign up for a personal my Social Security account if they don’t have one. Using their personal my Social Security account, they can request a replacement Social Security card, verify their earnings, get future benefit estimates, and obtain benefit verification letters.

We do provide survivors benefits to widows, widowers, and dependents of eligible workers. This benefit is particularly important to young families with children. You cannot apply for survivors benefits online. Visit the Social Security Administration's website for more information.

If someone cannot use our online services, they can call our National toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213. We may be able to help by phone and, if an office visit is required, we can make an appointment to reduce the time waiting in an office.

Social Security remains committed to helping maintain the well-being and protection of the people we serve—including those in rural areas. Please share this information with others in your local community.