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.

See Comments

About the Author

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications


  1. Charles C.

    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.!!!

  2. Michael G.

    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

  3. Michael G.

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

    Say hi ito Jim Borland for me.

  4. Marappa N.

    I don’t understand what to do! Please help me. Thanks.

  5. Dick v.

    in case of my passing away, will my spouse still get some benefit?
    *** – ** – ***

  6. Dick v.

    In case of my passing away, will my spouse get some benefit still?

  7. Joan

    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?

    • McLaura

      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! 🙁

  8. Elizabeth L.

    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.

    • Walt

      Even worse is when folks ask relatives/friends about SS benefits instead of asking SSA @ 1-800-772-1213

      • cherie


    • nat

      because you’ll sit on the phone for an hour. I have to take a vacation day Monday to go down to my local office because they are under paying me –they did not include my wages from 2018

    • Sue P.

      Because it’s a hell of a lot easier…and some of the answers are from SSA personnel!

  9. Michael B.

    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. Carlos B.

    My. Wife since retirement, became disabled. Can. Her ssi be increase. And if so how can she do this.

Comments are closed.