General

5 More Facts You Might Not Know About Social Security

July 26, 2018 • By

Last Updated: August 19, 2021

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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About the Author

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Comments

  1. Andrewindug

  2. CHARLES C.

    I applied for benefits in September 2020 and i was approved for medicare also. I have not received any payments yet from SSA. Do the payments start from the month one is approved.

    • Vonda

      Hi Charles, thank you for using our blog to ask your question. You can log in to or create a my Social Security account to check the status of your application online.

      If you are unable to check your status online, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  3. josh t.

    i worked for a government entity and did not pay social security. I became a paraplegic in December 2014. how can I find out how many more credits I need so I can claim SSDI? I am receiving SSI but am hoping to get back to work soon an am curious how many credits I need in order to claim SSDI.

    • Vonda

      Hi Josh, thanks for using our blog to ask your question. Please call your local Social Security office. Look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  4. Pamela J.

    Can I claim my exes social security if he is still alive and re married

    • Kenny O.

      Hi Pamela, thank you for the question. If you qualify for your own retirement benefits and for benefits as a divorced spouse, we always pay your own retirement benefits first. If your benefits as a divorced spouse are higher than your own retirement benefits, you will get a combination of benefits equaling the higher divorced spouse benefit. However, the divorced spouse’s benefit cannot exceed one-half of your ex-spouse’s full retirement amount (not the reduced benefit amount). So, you can only receive additional benefits if your own full retirement benefit (not your reduced benefit) is less than half of your ex-spouse’s full retirement benefit.

      Check out our Benefits for a Divorced Spouse web page for other eligibility requirements and more detailed information.

      To inquire about potential benefits on your ex-spouse’s record, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 or you can contact your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  5. valeria k.

    I have a refund due from medicare and have spoken to at least 10 different people for the past 10 months. I am promised the payment and then never receive it. Who can I call

    • Keith

      Hi Valeria, thank you for using our blog. We are sorry to hear about your frustration. If you have specific questions about your bill or the status of your Medicare coverage, call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 or you can call your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

    • Patricia

      I will be 74 this month I am still working, however, my income has been reduced because I am only working per diem now. Will my Social Security Benefits change in relation to me current income?

      • Vonda

        Hi Patricia, thank you for using our blog to ask your question. Each year we review the records for all Social Security recipients who work. If your latest year of earnings turns out to be one of your highest years, we refigure your benefit and pay you any increase due. This is an automatic process, and benefits are paid in December of the following year. For example, in December 2021, you should get an increase for your 2020 earnings if those earnings raised your benefit. The increase would be retroactive to January 2021.

        Check out our Receiving Benefits While Working web page for more details.

  6. patricia

    at 67 if I manage a company am I still entitled to benefits

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