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. Allan T.

    What is the rule governing the COLA for SS? Can the current administration change the amount that is based on inflation?
    Thank you,

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your question, Allan. By law, the Social Security Administration uses the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in the Department of Labor to calculate Cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs).
      You can find more details about the new COLA at

  2. Tanya L.

    How much are the monthly premiums in part B? How are they calculated?

  3. JOHN Y.


  4. Paul K.

    How do I found out if my payments on Medicare Part
    B are up-to-date? Who do i contact?
    Paul Ketcham

    • Ray F.

      Hello Paul. Please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
      Generally, you will have a shorter wait time if you call later during the day or later in the week. Thanks!

  5. Jose C.

    How do I find out my future benefits when I am presently receiving espousal benefits?

    • Ray F.

      Hello Jose, you may be able to use our Online Calculator.
      If you need further assistance, please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

  6. Jo B.

    How do you make an appointment? I have called and after going through the animated voice prompts, it says no one is avalable to take your call Goodbye?

    • Ray F.

      Hi Jo, we are sorry to hear that you are having difficulty reaching us by phone. We may have been experiencing higher than normal call volume.
      We ask for your patience during busy periods since you may experience a higher than usual rate of busy signals and longer hold times to speak to us.
      Remember, most Social Security business does not require a visit to a local field office. In fact, many services, including applying for retirement, disability and Medicare benefits, creating a my Social Security account, requesting a replacement Medicare card, or reporting a change of address or telephone number can now conveniently be handled anytime on our website.
      Some of our local offices do offer walk-in appointments; however, these appointments are on a first come, first serve basis. When calling our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213, you may experience a shorter wait time if you call later during the day or later in the week. Our representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thanks!

  7. Suzanne C.

    Can I live out of the country and receive SSA? A friend is who is a healer is inviting me to Ecuador because the standard of living is different and I can live more cheaply.

    • Ray F.

      Great question, Suzanne. Our publication, “Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States”, explains how being outside the United States may affect your Social Security payments. If you are a U.S. citizen, you may continue to receive payments outside the United States as long as you are eligible for payment and you are in a country where we can send payments.
      You may use our Payments Abroad Screening Tool to see if you can receive your benefits while living in Ecuador. Remember, if you do move, you are required to report your change of address to Social Security, even if we are sending your payments to a bank or other financial institution.
      Also, we recommend that individuals planning to leave the United States visit our Office of International Operations home page, which provides additional information for our customers living abroad. We hope this information helps!

  8. JORGE A.

    In the event if I decided to get married after start receiving payments for my retirement benefits, will this change affect my benefits in any way?

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your question, Jorge. If you get Social Security disability or retirement benefits and you marry, your benefit will stay the same. Generally, individuals must be married for one year before they can get spouse’s benefits.
      We hope this information helps!

  9. essam e.

    thank you for this outstanding iformation

    • Ray F.

      Thank you, Essam! Your thoughts are important to us and we’re pleased when feedback is positive. It’s wonderful to know our efforts are paying off. Your comment helps us to know we have made a difference to those we serve every day.

  10. Evelyn E.

    My Social Security is not a “benefit”. It is money that I earned and put into my Social Security account. I really wish that more effort would be put into making Congress return the money they “borrowed”–which, incidentally, was money that they weren’t supposed to ever get their greedy hands on—actually stole from us because SS was solvent. I worked hard for that money; it was my retirement. It’s disgusting that no one seems to care.

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your comment, Evelyn. Social Security is a pay-as-you-go system. Social Security taxes collected from today’s workers pay the benefits of today’s retirees. Any funds in excess of what is needed to pay today’s benefits are invested in special issue, U.S. Government, interest-bearing securities. This investment – the purchase of U.S. Government securities – is what constitutes the “borrowing” that people are sometimes concerned about. Any funds that have been “borrowed” from the Social Security Trust Funds have always been paid back in full, plus interest.
      Please check out our Trust Fund Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.

Comments are closed.