How to Claim Lottery Winnings

Two lottery tickets.
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If you're the proud owner of a winning lottery ticket, immediately sign the back and keep it in a safe place until you're ready to claim your prize. Although the specific rules may vary by state, the prizes can typically be claimed at local lottery retailers or customer service centers. They can be mailed in too, though that depends on the winning amount. Lottery tickets usually expire between 90 and 180 days after the purchase or drawing date.

In Person

Any lottery outlet can typically redeem a prize of $600 or less. For the bigger prizes, you'll need to visit a state lottery customer service center or submit a claim form, the ticket, a copy of your ID and social security documentation to the claims office. The state's lottery website contains state-specific rules regarding claiming lottery winnings, as well as addresses for local customer service centers, retailers and claims offices.

Acceptable Forms of Identification

Most retailers will want to see ID for lottery claims of more than $100. Common examples of acceptable identification are a driver's license, U.S. passport or other government-issued photo ID card. A social security card is the most common way to verify that number, but items such as a Military ID Card or Medicare card that show it will suffice.

Large Dollar Prizes

If you've won a major prize, you will have to claim your winnings in person at the state lottery headquarters. You'll need to sign the federal and state income tax forms, as taxes will be withheld from your winnings. You may also have to make a big decision about how you get what's left over. Jackpot prizes may be paid out in installments over a pre-determined number of years, or as a one-time, lump-sum payment.