5 More Facts You Might Not Know About Social Security

What kind of questions do you and your friends ask about Social Security? When do my benefits arrive? What are Social Security work credits, and do they have anything to do with the way my benefits are figured? Will I be automatically enrolled in Medicare? Read on to find the answers to these questions.

1. Social Security benefits are paid in the month following the month for which they are due.

When you meet all the requirements for eligibility, the benefit check you receive is payment for the prior month’s benefits. For information on the payment of benefits, you can read our pamphlet, What You Need to Know When You Get Retirement or Survivors Benefits.

To know when checks will be paid, you can save the Schedule of Social Security Benefit Payments to your “Favorites” or print it.

2. We don’t pay benefits for the month of death.

Social Security uses the same throughout-the-month rule to determine eligibility for the benefit that is due for the month of death. You must live through the full month to be eligible for the payment. See the pamphlet above in the section titled If a beneficiary dies for more information about when a check is due.

3. Survivors benefits can replace a percentage of the worker’s earnings for family members.

The eligible family members of a retired or disabled beneficiary may receive a monthly payment of up to 50 percent of beneficiary’s amount. Survivors benefits usually range from about 75 percent to 100 percent of the deceased worker’s amount. Visit our Understanding the Benefits publication for an explanation of the amounts family members receive.

4. Work credits determine eligibility for benefits, but your lifetime earnings are used to calculate your monthly benefit amount.

Retired workers need 40 work credits to be eligible for benefits, but your work credits alone do not determine how much you will receive each month. When we figure your retirement benefit, we use the average of your highest 35 years of earnings. See Your Retirement Benefit: How It Is Figured for more information

5. If you receive retirement benefits before you reach age 65, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare.

Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) helps pay for inpatient care in a hospital or skilled nursing facility following a hospital stay. It also pays for some home health care and hospice care. Medicare Part B (medical insurance) helps pay for services from doctors and other health care providers, outpatient care, home health care, durable medical equipment, and some preventative services. When you’re already receiving retirement benefits, we automatically sign you up for Medicare Parts A and B when you turn age 65. You can then decline Part B if you choose, since it requires a monthly premium. If you are not receiving retirement benefits as you approach age 65, you should contact Social Security three months before age 65 to sign up for Medicare Part A and B. Even if you don’t want to retire at 65, you should sign up for Medicare only. For more details, check out our Medicare page.

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119 thoughts on “5 More Facts You Might Not Know About Social Security

  1. I have been married to my husband for 14 years. He has another wife who was married to him for appro. 21 years. When he reaches retirement age 62 do we get any assistance if we are not together with him.

  2. Received an increase of 3% for 2borrow from cre018 however did not change my monthly earnings of $1049. as it was put into medicare. I have to boat a much rrow from credit cards to manage as it is. Now owe over $20,000.
    Do wish that I could borrow from the government at a low interest rate, then could pay off bloody high credit card rates, or wish the government would control credit card companies rates.

      • Our blog — Social Security Matters — gives readers information about a variety of topics, including our programs, online services, current events, and human-interest stories, usually in greater detail than typically shared on our other social media platforms.
        Our blog encourages discussion and offers important retirement and disability-related solutions. While we welcome general participation from all of our followers, we ask all participants to please be considerate and polite to others when posting comments. Thanks!

  3. If a person is still working at age 65 (and older) why do they have to go on Medicare? Can they stay on their employer’s medical benefits?
    Just curious, as I would think it would reduce govt medicare costs with less people using it, if they still worked.

      • but you do HAVE to go on medicare eventually. I HAD to go on medicare and take social security when I turned 70! even tho’ I’m still working. it helped to wait until I had to. I still have benefits from my employer, maybe I am one of the lucky few!

  4. How can I find out how much of the Social Security benefit I am now getting is from my deceased husband’s account and my own account? Thanks.

  5. I have been on SSA for many years. I just relocated and can no longer log in. I tried everything just to change the PW if necessary. They just do not listen.
    Why is this after all these years to have to put up with those you hire.

    • Personnal nebulous questions cannot be answered on a public blog. But if you insist on an answer, you’ll get $1.26 and it will come the day after next week.

    • Hello Lisa. Unfortunately, and because of security reasons we do not have access to personal records in this blog and cannot answer your question at this time.
      Please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Generally, you will have a shorter wait time if you call later during the day or later in the week. Thanks!

  6. My 1st husband passed away the end of the month he got his 1st check, we were broke so we paid bills then because there was 3 days left in the month he passed they took money we didn’t have out of our account which made all our bills bounce how can that be right? Luckly we live in a small town and the bank did not penalize us. After my 1st husband passed a year or so later I was contacted by my 1st love we got married and he was already drawing Social Security benefits. I found out later he had COPD the end stages, I had good insurance and he got a double lung transplant after he got to filling up to it he went back to Florida to spend a little time with his children while he was there he fell and broke his neck and passed away his children had him buried and never let his family, myself and 2 sisters of the event meanwhile the oldest daughter convinced me he didn’t want to come back here so I filed the divorce papers she was the one giving the OK on the divorce. Long story short can I draw off of either deceased husband?

    • Hello Donna. A widow of persons who worked long enough under Social Security is eligible for benefits at age 60 (age 50 if disabled). It is possible for a person to be eligible to benefits under multiple records at the same time. However, we are only going to pay the highest benefit amount from one of those records – meaning that you will only be allowed to receive one payment.
      See our Benefits Planner: If You Are The Survivor for more information. Thanks!

  7. This was enlightening for me . I do have a question I get Social Security I think because of my husband I did not have enough quarters to get mine it’s only 500 dollars if my husband would die would I get anymore or not because I have already drew this money he gets over a thousand is there a way I can find this information out

  8. I sent in a couple of questions several months ago and still have not received an answer. I know your are extremely busy, however my wife and I are still needing an answer.
    I am 70 she is 75, she has file on my SS while i was a teacher, I have now retired. I have be re-employed with Oklahoma County Clerk’s office making more money than teaching. Can she refile and get a higher portion under the new salary?

  9. Great newsletter. I am over 66 (full benefits/born 1952) but have not applied for SS Benefits to date. Why isn’t my monthly SS Statement updated monthly to show what my monthly amount would be since I have not applied and it has been 6 months past my full benefit age of 66? How do I find what my benefit will be on my 67th birthday?

  10. Why do all of these people ask questions of this computer site when they should be contacting their local Social Security office??? That’s where the help comes from, not from a computer.

  11. If benefits are paid in the month following the month for which they are due, then why are benefits not paid to the Survivor for the month of death?

    • Excellent question! I was wondering the same exact thing. My guess is because NOT paying out is in THEIR budgets best interest. Forget about what’s fair & reasonable! 🙁

  12. Social Security Matters hits the right chords for the layperson. Hope many are taking advantage of it.

    Say hi ito Jim Borland for me.

  13. Typed too fast and messed up my email address on prior message.

    Social Security Matters hits the right chords for the layperson. Hope many are taking advantage of it.

    Please tell Jim Borland that I said hi. Michael

    RC Emeritus

  14. I have received 4 checks from Medicare for an overcharge they are .01cent ,.04 cents. ,07 cents and finally .25 cents.
    How much did these checks cost the Taxpayers
    Talk about government waste.!!!

  15. I am presently employed part time and I pay into Social Security. I have been receiving benefits since age sixty two when I retired. I am sixty eight years old and my question is, Will my benefits ever increase?

    • Great question, Anthony. Each year, we review the records for all working Social Security recipients to see if additional earnings may increase their monthly benefits.
      When you apply for retirement benefits, we base your benefit payment on your highest 35 years of earnings and your age when you start receiving benefits. If your earnings for the prior year are higher than one of the years we used to compute your retirement benefit, we will recalculate your benefit amount.
      If an increase is due, a new monthly benefit amount is established on your record automatically.
      See “Getting Benefits While Working” for more information. Thanks!

  16. How can you say that Social Security is an intitlement. That is our money that we paid and then you borrowed and never paid it back. Everyone that I talk to agrees.

    • Hello Dale. Social Security is a pay-as-you-go system. Social Security taxes collected from today’s workers pay the benefits of today’s retirees.
      Any funds in excess of what is needed to pay today’s benefits are invested in special issue, U.S. Government, interest-bearing securities. This investment –the purchase of U.S. Government securities– is what constitutes the “borrowing” that people are sometimes concerned about. Any funds that have been “borrowed” from the Social Security Trust Funds have always been paid back in full, plus interest.
      Please check out our Trust Fund Frequently Asked Questions page for more information. Thanks!

  17. Why do I have to pay taxes on my retirement? I have to pay taxes on my own money isn’t this tax free income? How do you calculate the taxes? I guess the government makes changes whenever they want to……

  18. I hope Social Security lasts as long I do. I am having to work 70 hours a week to make ends meet. I am taking my SS benifits at 66 and hope to pay off a 217000.

  19. I would like to know is the government going to pay back the money they took from us so we can get more for social security

    • Hi Nellie, Social Security is a pay-as-you-go system. Social Security taxes collected from today’s workers pay the benefits of today’s retirees. Any funds in excess of what is needed to pay today’s benefits are invested in special issue, U.S. Government, interest-bearing securities. This investment – the purchase of U.S. Government securities – is what constitutes the “borrowing” that people are sometimes concerned about. Any funds that have been “borrowed” from the Social Security Trust Funds have always been paid back in full, plus interest. Please check out our Trust Fund Frequently Asked Questions page for more information. Thanks!

    • Thank you, Olga! We’re pleased we can help. We will continue our efforts to meet your requirements and expectations in the years to come.

  20. i am happy now that i have retired from my employer and will be happy when ever ssc cheches show up money has never been a problem with me. and being signal , sense my wife dead 2-2-17, after being married 54 yrs living in house with no mortgage even makes it better.

  21. My Social Security is not a “benefit”. It is money that I earned and put into my Social Security account. I really wish that more effort would be put into making Congress return the money they “borrowed”–which, incidentally, was money that they weren’t supposed to ever get their greedy hands on—actually stole from us because SS was solvent. I worked hard for that money; it was my retirement. It’s disgusting that no one seems to care.

    • Thank you for your comment, Evelyn. Social Security is a pay-as-you-go system. Social Security taxes collected from today’s workers pay the benefits of today’s retirees. Any funds in excess of what is needed to pay today’s benefits are invested in special issue, U.S. Government, interest-bearing securities. This investment – the purchase of U.S. Government securities – is what constitutes the “borrowing” that people are sometimes concerned about. Any funds that have been “borrowed” from the Social Security Trust Funds have always been paid back in full, plus interest.
      Please check out our Trust Fund Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.

    • Thank you, Essam! Your thoughts are important to us and we’re pleased when feedback is positive. It’s wonderful to know our efforts are paying off. Your comment helps us to know we have made a difference to those we serve every day.

  22. In the event if I decided to get married after start receiving payments for my retirement benefits, will this change affect my benefits in any way?

    • Thank you for your question, Jorge. If you get Social Security disability or retirement benefits and you marry, your benefit will stay the same. Generally, individuals must be married for one year before they can get spouse’s benefits.
      We hope this information helps!

  23. Can I live out of the country and receive SSA? A friend is who is a healer is inviting me to Ecuador because the standard of living is different and I can live more cheaply.

    • Great question, Suzanne. Our publication, “Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States”, explains how being outside the United States may affect your Social Security payments. If you are a U.S. citizen, you may continue to receive payments outside the United States as long as you are eligible for payment and you are in a country where we can send payments.
      You may use our Payments Abroad Screening Tool to see if you can receive your benefits while living in Ecuador. Remember, if you do move, you are required to report your change of address to Social Security, even if we are sending your payments to a bank or other financial institution.
      Also, we recommend that individuals planning to leave the United States visit our Office of International Operations home page, which provides additional information for our customers living abroad. We hope this information helps!

  24. How do you make an appointment? I have called and after going through the animated voice prompts, it says no one is avalable to take your call Goodbye?

    • Hi Jo, we are sorry to hear that you are having difficulty reaching us by phone. We may have been experiencing higher than normal call volume.
      We ask for your patience during busy periods since you may experience a higher than usual rate of busy signals and longer hold times to speak to us.
      Remember, most Social Security business does not require a visit to a local field office. In fact, many services, including applying for retirement, disability and Medicare benefits, creating a my Social Security account, requesting a replacement Medicare card, or reporting a change of address or telephone number can now conveniently be handled anytime on our website.
      Some of our local offices do offer walk-in appointments; however, these appointments are on a first come, first serve basis. When calling our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213, you may experience a shorter wait time if you call later during the day or later in the week. Our representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thanks!

    • Hello Jose, you may be able to use our Online Calculator.
      If you need further assistance, please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
      Thanks!

    • Hello Paul. Please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
      Generally, you will have a shorter wait time if you call later during the day or later in the week. Thanks!

  25. I TURN 70 ON JAN 1 2019. I WANT TO GET BENEFITS AT THE MAXIMUM AGE OF 70. WHEN SHOULD I APPLY? HOW CAN I GET A APPOINTMENT AT THE OFFICE HERE IN CHARLESTON?

    • Thank you for your question, Allan. By law, the Social Security Administration uses the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in the Department of Labor to calculate Cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs).
      You can find more details about the new COLA at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.

  26. Hello Social Security! I need a copy of my 2017 Social Security Statement to complete taxes. Tried setting up an account on SS website. Could not verify financial information and blocked attempt to create account. Please advise as to the BEST way to obtain copy of 2017 SS Statement. Thank you! Ruth Ann Rowe

    • Thank you for your question, Perry. You qualify for Social Security benefits by earning Social Security credits when you work in a job and pay Social Security taxes. Credits are the “building blocks” we use to find out whether you have the minimum amount of covered work to qualify for each type of Social Security benefit.
      The number of work credits needed for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which being earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled.
      Until 1984, employment by the federal government was covered under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and not by Social Security. If you worked for a federal agency during those years, you did not pay Social Security tax on your earnings and those earnings are not shown on your record.
      If you need further assistance, you can call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
      We hope this information helps!

  27. I have recently turned 65 and want to know that even though I do not wish to receive SS benefits at this time do I need to register?

    • Hello Robert. If you are 65 or older and not ready to start your monthly cash benefits yet, you can use our online retirement application to sign up for Medicare ONLY and apply for your retirement or spouses benefits later.
      Please call our toll free number for further assistance at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thanks!

  28. I am collecting social security but under FRA and also working part time. I may be getting laid off soon and collecting unemployment.
    does the unemployment earnings count toward the 2018 limit on wages?

  29. I have just been approved for disability social security. Will social security pay me for the 5 month waiting period? Also will I get Medicare a and b?

    • Hello Darlene, you will receive Medicare after you receive disability benefits for 24 months. We start counting the 24 months from the month you were entitled to receive disability, not the month when you received your first check.
      Current law requires everybody that is approved for disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI program to serve a 5 month waiting period. The 5 month waiting period ensures that during the early months of disability, we do not pay benefits to persons who do not have long-term disabilities. The first Social Security disability benefits will be paid for the sixth full month after the date the disability began. Here is an example: If the state agency decides your disability began on January 15, your first disability benefit will be paid for the month of July. Social Security benefits are paid in the month following the month for which they are due, so you’ll receive your July benefit in August.
      We hope this information helps!

    • Great question, Cindy! You can still work and receive your Social Security retirement benefits at the same time. However, if you are younger than full retirement age (currently age 66), and make more than the yearly earnings limit, this can reduce the number of payments you receive through the year.
      For 2018 that limit is $17,040. This limit changes in the year you reach full retirement age.
      To learn more, please read our publication: “How Work Affects Your Benefits”.
      If you have additional questions, please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and talk with one of our representatives. Thanks!

  30. I attempted to set up my own account and sadly seem to not have the correct expected responses for my own personal questions. I understand making it difficult for criminals to access personal accounts, however this process seems to make it impossible for someone to legitimately set up their own account!

    • Hello Rebecca. If you are still having trouble creating an account, please call our dedicated my Social Security-Hotline for assistance. To reach this hotline, call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. At the voice prompt, say “helpdesk”. Sometimes you may have to contact your local Social Security office. Thanks!

  31. I do not receive my yearly Reporting Form #7162 on a regular basis because of the the postal service here in the Philippines. Can I download the Form and send it by registered mail?

    • You’re only allowed to receive one Social Security payment, Wayne. Social Security disability benefits are paid at a higher rate and automatically change to retirement benefits when disability beneficiaries attain their full retirement age. Benefits are not interrupted with this transition and the benefit amount will generally remains the same. Thanks!

  32. While living in the US I used my SSN, later on returned to my country and forgot about it. Now I would like to know its status.

    • Hello Priscilla. You can call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Generally you will have a shorter wait time when you call later during the day or later in the week. Or contact your local Social Security office directly. Thanks!

    • Hi Priscilla. Please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 , Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Generally, you will have a shorter wait time if you call later during the day or later in the week. Or contact your local Social Security office. Thanks!

  33. I am still working and will be 65 in January. My employer offers us money to leave our job at the end of the year and sip offer to save younger employees jobs. If I take the lump sum of $30,500.00 will it make me earn to much money to sign up and receive benefits immediately. Will there be a penalty and wait several months.

    • Great question, Carol. After you retire, you may receive payments for work you did before you started getting Social Security benefits. Usually, those payments will
      not affect your Social Security benefit if they are for work done before you retired. See “What qualifies as a special payment?” for more information.
      If you need further assistant, call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thanks!

  34. My exhusband went on social security this year at age 62. We have a 16 year old. I am receiving child support/social security but wondered if the divorce degree stated he is responsible for 50percent of medical expenses if that is still the same even though he is on social security at this time? Thank you.

  35. Can I draw SSDI benefits on behalf of my child if the non-custodial parent is refusing to pay child support and owes arrearage?

  36. Not kowing that I should have filed for disabilty benefits insteady of early retirement, Can I re-apply to receive disabilty benefits.?

    • Hello Wally, you can apply for disability benefits before you reach your full retirement age. If a person has reached his or her full retirement age and is receiving Social Security retirement, they will not be eligible for disability benefits.
      You can continue to receive your retirement benefits while we process your application for disability benefits and wait for a medical decision. If your claim is approved, we will adjust your monthly benefit amount accordingly. Disability benefits are paid at a higher rate.
      Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or short-term disability. Disability benefits are paid to people who are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last one year or more or to end in death.
      In addition to meeting our definition for disability, individuals must have worked long enough–and recently enough–under Social Security to qualify for disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program. You must have earned the required number of work credits within a certain period ending with the time you became disabled.
      Individuals currently receiving benefits on their own record, cannot use the online application to apply for disability benefits. To apply, you will have to call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Or visit your local Social Security office. (Call first to make an appointment.) Thanks!

  37. When applying for SS benefits the form asks for my “total earnings last year.” I am retired and not working and earning no wages from a job. I do however have a pension from working for 30 years as a teacher. Is my pension considered earnings?

    • Thank you for the question, Murray. Pension payments, annuities, and the interest or dividends from your savings and investments are not earnings for Social Security purposes. Only earned income, your wages or net income from self-employment, is covered by Social Security.

      A non-covered pension, a pension based on work that is not covered by Social Security (for example, Federal civil service and some State or local government agencies such as police officers and some teachers), may cause the amount of your Social Security benefit to be reduced. Your benefit can be reduced based on one of two provisions: The Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision.

      See our Information for Government Employees web page for details.

  38. If I start my first Social Security payment in January 2019, will I receive a 2018 SSA Tax Form 1099 for January’s payment, because January’s payment would be for December 2018? Or, does the SSA only send out 1099’s for payments in the calendar year in which payment was sent?

    • Hi Pete. In January, we send you a Form 1099 (Social Security Benefit Statement), showing the amount of benefits you received in the prior calendar year. A worksheet (IRS Notice 703) is included for determining whether any portion of your Social Security benefits received is subject to income tax.

      • Vonda, thanks for your reply.

        Maybe I didn’t phrase my question correctly, what I really need to know is this: Does a January 2019 Social Security payment (for December 2018, because SS pays a month in arrears) mean that Social Security will send me a 2018 Form 1099 for January 2019’s payment?

  39. Vonda, thanks for your reply.

    Maybe I didn’t phrase my question correctly, sorry if I didn’t. What I really need to know is: If I receive a Social Security payment during the month of January 2019 (but the Jan. payment is actually for the month of December 2018, because SS pays a month in arrears), will I then receive a 2018 Social Security Form 1099 for January’s payment?

      • Thanks Vonda, that’s just what I needed to know.

        So, essentially the SSA sends out SSA-1099’s for payments that are received during the 12 month January – December calendar year, even though the month of January payment is actually for December the previous year, correct?

  40. A friend (who this is happening to, although she is divorced & I am not) said that I was entitled to receive 50% of the value of my husband’s S/S ‘before’ I officially retire (as long as I am 65). I will be 65 in Dec and my husband is 68. I was told that this is open to anyone born before 12/31/53. And, then, once I officially retire & draw my benefits, what I would be getting from him would end. Is this true, and if so, how does it work?

    • Generally, if you qualify and apply for your own retirement benefits and for benefits as a spouse, we always pay your own benefits first. If your benefits as a spouse are higher than your own retirement benefits, you will get a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse benefit.
      Also, under the new law, if you were born before January 2, 1954 and have already reached full retirement age, you can choose to receive only the spouse’s benefit and delay receiving your retirement benefit until a later date. If your birthday is January 2, 1954 or later, the option to take only one benefit at full retirement age no longer exists. If you file for one benefit, you will be effectively filing for all retirement or spousal benefits.
      You can speak to one of our agents, by calling our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Or you can contact your local office directly.
      We hope this information helps!

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