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


  1. gayle n.

    Hello, I started receiving my ssa at age 65, and am still working, but only part time, now. How much can I make without having to pay back 1 dollar for every 2? I took it early because of covid 19. I am pretty sure there is a different calculation for the first year.

    • Vonda

      Hi Gayle, 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 in 2021, the earnings limit is $50,520 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 2021, that limit is $18,960.

      Visit our Retirement Planner: Getting Benefits While Working for more details.

  2. Neal H.

    My IRMAA was $ 249,354.00 for income tax year 2019. I cashed in some of my 401 K to purchase a lake property. I am wondering why I have to pay the higher number for Medicare. Is money taken out of a 401 k considered Capitol Gain or Regular Income?
    This will be a one time event as I will in the $ 176,000. – $ 222,000. category for the years to come.


    I retired at age 62 I am now 79 I have heard on TV ETC. that you can temporary stop your benefit and refile for full retirement Social Security Benefit. Is that true? Thank You

    • Vonda

      Hi Virginia, thanks for using our blog. 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. Check out our Suspending Your Retirement Benefits web page for additional details. We hope this is helpful!

  4. Michele S.

    I will be 62 in Jan 2021 and planning on retiring next year. My estimated social security is $1500 per month. I was told that I could also collect up to1/3 of my husband’s social security as he is still alive at age 71 and he also collects social security of $1500 per month. Calculation would be my benefit of $1500 plus $500 of his for monthly SS = $1800? When I called SS today they told me I would receive either my $1500 or half of his social security not both which ever amount is higher.

    • Vonda

      Hi Michele, thanks for using our blog to ask your question. We will always pay your own retirement benefit 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. However, the spouse’s benefit cannot exceed one-half of your husband’s full retirement amount (not his reduced benefit amount). So, you can only receive additional spouse’s benefits if your own full retirement benefit (not your reduced benefit) is less than half of your husband’s full retirement benefit. Check out our Benefits For Your Spouse web page for additional details. We hope this helps!

  5. eva b.

    my dad is 77 years old and he is getting social security will he qualify for any extra money ,during the pandemic

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Eva, thank you for your question. Please visit the IRS Economic Impact Payments Information Center to answer your questions about eligibility, payment amounts, what to expect, when to expect it and more. If you are unable to find the answer, call the IRS hotline at 1-800-919-9835. Thanks!

  6. Vince M.

    SSA, I retired on January 2020 and started receiving my SS benefits on February 2020. My question is, my benefits were calculated at the time I requested my benefits without my 2019 wages included. Those (2019) wages have now been included, will I be getting a raise in my SS Benefits?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Vince, thanks for using our blog. 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 35 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 2020, you should get an increase for your 2019 earnings if those earnings raised your benefit. The increase would be retroactive to January 2020. We hope this helps!

  7. n m.

    i have Medicare , can I use that in India ?is there any plan you ofer which can be used by me in India , my s s no. last 5 digits are 21197. please name is natwarlal m. badani . us citizen. I am getting s s and I thick I am enrolled in Medicare too please

  8. MaryAnne F.

    How can I receive Pamphlets on “What Every Woman Should Know”

  9. Matthew S.

    I turned 62 last month and I am considering putting in for Social Security Benefits. I have two sons in their early teens. Do I receive more Monthly Social Security Benefits.

    Thank you

    • Vonda V.

      Thank you for using our blog, Matthew. When a parent gets Social Security retirement benefits or disability benefits, his or her child also may get benefits. Children also can get benefits when a parent dies. The child can be a biological child, adopted child or stepchild. A dependent grandchild also may qualify.

      To get benefits, the child must be unmarried and:
      • Younger than age 18;
      • A full-time student (no higher than grade 12) 18 to 19 years old; or
      • Have a disability that started before age 22 and is 18 years or older.

      See our factsheet on Benefits for Children for more information.

      To apply for retirement benefits for yourself and for your two sons, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 to make an appointment 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.

  10. Patricia L.

    I’m on SSD right now. I’m 64. Do I have to sign up again for regular retirement benefits when I turn 65? Am I able to collect on my husband’s benefits, though he is alive?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Patricia, thanks for using our blog. Social Security disability benefits automatically change to retirement benefits when disability beneficiaries become full retirement age. The law does not allow a person to receive both retirement and disability benefits on one earnings record at the same time. Your monthly benefit amount remains the same.

      If benefits as a spouse are higher than your own disability benefit, you will get a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse benefit. However, the spouse’s benefit cannot exceed one-half of your husband’s full retirement amount (not his reduced benefit amount). Also, keep in mind that your spouse must file for Social Security benefits before you can apply for spouse’s benefits.

      To find out if you are eligible for a higher benefit amount, 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.

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