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.


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

  1. Am I to pay $433.80 every 3 months? That is a lot to pay especially if I am to live on my retirement check until social security starts paying. Why am I paying so much? What is another alternative instead of having to pay so much?
    There is so much I don’t understand about what I am suppose to do to properly enroll in Medicare. I have been reading and made several calls. What can I do to make my understanding easier?

  2. Retired at 62 have been collecting benefits for one year 5 months, can i cancel benefits and re-apply when i’m 66 and 2 months.? if so what are the requirements?

    • Hi, Carmen. Thanks for your question. An individual may be able to withdraw their Social Security claim and apply again at a future date. However, you must do this within 12 months after the date they originally began receiving benefits if any. Keep in mind that there are some things you need to know about what will happen if you withdraw your application. Read the details here. Hope this helps!

  3. what is the procedure to suspend benefits and re-apply when i turn 66 and two months which is my full retirement age?

    • Hi, Carmen. Thanks for your question. If you have reached full retirement age, but are not yet age 70, you can ask us to suspend your retirement benefit payments. By doing this, you will earn delayed retirement credits for each month your benefits are suspended which will result in a higher benefit payment to you. For more information, visit here. We hope this helps.

  4. I just applied for benefits. I’m 62 and live in Canada but I’m a US citizen. They have asked for my marriage documentation but I could not find an address to send this to. Can you help?

  5. Can you see the real me?

    I’m an IV. But I’m not an Interactive Video of an Intelligent Vehicle carrying an International Visitor needing Independent Verification of an Immigrant Visa. No. It’s much simpler than that.

    I’m a Fourth. And my Grandads, my Dad, and me; Sr. Jr. III & IV, we ALL went by our MIDDLE names. Now this can be a real drag, especially as a kid because
    a) your first name is kind of dorky and b) school enrollment forms and nearly ALL official applications specify;


    So when I received a replacement for my lost Social Security Card twenty-something years ago, and it showed only my MIDDLE and LAST name, it was ok by me. I actually breathed a little sigh of relief. Little did I know the problems this would cause me two decades later.

    I’ve been driving legally in Hawaii for over twenty years. But when I went to renew my license the DMV would only give me a restricted license that says in big letters NOT ACCEPTABLE FOR FEDERAL ID. Well, I just want to drive legally, so? Am I? I’m still not sure.
    What I am sure of is that my friend’s bank wouldn’t let me cash one of their own checks because of my ID conundrum. And I probably can’t rent a car if I go off-Island.

    So what does this have to do with Social Security? I’m glad you asked. Otherwise, I might ramble on for another three pages.

    They wouldn’t renew my Driver’s License properly because my name is not IDENTICAL on all my documents.
    It’s somehow in preparation for an upcoming Federal requirement. And If I have understood the concerns of the friendly civil servants that I have spoken to, my SS card is the lynchpin that’s holding up the show.

    I need my FULL LEGAL BIRTH NAME to appear on my SS CARD. But I can’t find any instructions on how to remedy this. It is not a NAME CHANGE. It’s also not technically a correction, as both are correct. Perhaps it’s more of a clarification?

    My original SS Card that I got when I was in High School forty-some years ago had my full name. I am 100% CERTAIN that my First name was spelled out. I’m not certain if it was my Middle INITIAL or Middle NAME.
    It’s likely that it matched my Birth Certificate which I do have a photocopy of (non-notarized) it shows all names spelled out and the suffix.

    My current VALID US Passport shows my FIRST INITIAL / Middle NAME / Last NAME and Suffix: IV
    I have all the aforementioned documents including a currently restricted Hawaii DL.

    Can someone please see the real me and assist me in obtaining a replacement SS Card with MY FULL LEGAL NAME? Thank you.

  6. Ok I never went and changed my social after we got married and it really never cause much problem capt tax time then my agent would just have me sign my race with what was on my social and now it’s a huge problem my partially unemployment is stoped from it I don’t kbow hoe anlm eat guess go to community actions

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