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. Steve

    How much do you have to earn to qualify for one SS credit in 2020?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Steve, thanks for using our blog. We use your total yearly earnings to figure your Social Security credits. The amount needed for a credit in 2020 is $1,410. You can earn a maximum of four credits for any year. The amount needed to earn one credit increases automatically each year when average wages increase.

      You must earn a certain number of credits to qualify for Social Security benefits. The number of credits you need depends on your age when you apply and the type of benefit application. No one needs more than 40 credits for any Social Security benefit. We hope this helps!

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  3. Billy

    I retired four months before turning 66 I was 66 in June. If I go back to work how much can I earn while still drawing my retirement.

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Billy, thanks for using our blog. Beginning with the month you reached full retirement age, earnings no longer reduce your benefits, no matter how much you earn. Plus, if you continue to work while receiving retirement benefits, your monthly benefit amount may increase. As long as you continue to work and receive benefits, we will automatically check your record every year to see whether the additional earnings will increase your monthly benefit. If there is an increase, we will send you a letter telling you of your new benefit amount.

      Check out our Retirement Planner: Getting Benefits While Working for additional details.

  4. Anne D.

    If I take early retirement, but want to work, how many hours are allowed.

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Anne, thanks for using our blog. The amount you’re allowed to earn while receiving benefits depends on your age. If you attain full retirement age (66) in 2020, the earnings limit is $48,600 but we only count earnings before the month you reach full retirement age. Beginning with the month you reach full retirement age, earnings no longer reduce your benefits, no matter how much you earn. If you’re under full retirement age for the entire year, then we deduct $1 from benefit payments for every $2 earned above the annual limit. For 2020, that limit is $18,240.

      Visit our Retirement Planner: Getting Benefits While Working and our Retirement Earnings Test Calculator.

      The Benefits Planner: Retirement provides detailed information about Social Security retirement benefits.

  5. Joyce R.

    I was told byy now experiencing boyfriend that he would reimburse me when he got his disability , I payed his car insurance, all utilities, cigarettes and some grocery , also he tore the siding off my house and left huge openenings down the side of my house he is now refusing to pay even part of what he owese

  6. Jim M.

    I’m a 74 year old man and a Vietnam veteran with a 80% disability rating. Can I also file for Social Security disability?

  7. Linda D.

    I really cant remember when I had to retired,but it was maybe when I was 62-63,,Im 70 now and just wanted to know if I could get a part time job and how much can I earn .

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Linda, thanks for using our blog. Beginning with the month you reached full retirement age, earnings no longer reduce your benefits, no matter how much you earn. Plus, if you continue to work while receiving retirement benefits, your monthly benefit amount may increase. As long as you continue to work and receive benefits, we will automatically check your record every year to see whether the additional earnings will increase your monthly benefit. If there is an increase, we will send you a letter telling you of your new benefit amount. We hope this helps.

  8. Patricia A.

    I filed for SS benefits when I turned 65 and am now receiving monthly payments, however, is it possible to change my SS benefits once I hit 67 and file under my ex-husbands benefits? We were married for 32 years and I was told at one time that I could file under his benefits but not until I was 67.

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Patricia, thanks for using our blog. If you are divorced and currently unmarried, you may be able to receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s record if your marriage lasted 10 years or longer. Your benefit as a divorced spouse can be equal to one-half of your ex’s full retirement amount only if you start receiving those benefits at your full retirement age. If you begin to receive benefits at age 62 or prior to your full retirement age, your benefits are reduced. The reduction factors are permanently applied to all of the benefits you qualify for once you opt to start benefits at age 62 or at any time prior to your full retirement age.

      Remember, 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.

      See our Retirement Planner: If You’re Divorced for other eligibility requirements and more detailed information.

      You can call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance 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.

  9. MOLINET

    when do I have to sign up for social security/medicare benifits, turning 65 this month, on work visa in Austraila for another 3 years and do not plan to retire until about 70 years of age

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Molinet. Thanks for your question. For more information about filing for Medicare while living abroad, visit here .
      We recommend that individuals living outside the United States contact their local Federal Benefits Unit for any assistance related to Social Security benefits. Also, our Office of International Operations home page provides more information to assist our customers living abroad. We hope this helps.

  10. Tamara D.

    My company is offering an early retirement package. This includes a cash out of accrued sick and vacation time I’ve earned. Will those count as income earned if I collect my social security benefits at age 62 ?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Tamara, thanks for using our blog. If you work for wages, income counts when it’s earned, not when it’s paid. If you have income that you earned in one year, but the payment was made in the following year, it shouldn’t be counted as earnings for the year you receive it. Some examples are accumulated sick or vacation pay and bonuses. Check out our publication How Work Affects Your Benefits for additional details. We hope this helps!

Comments are closed.