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. Maxwell T.

    I do not receive my yearly Reporting Form #7162 on a regular basis because of the the postal service here in the Philippines. Can I download the Form and send it by registered mail?

    • Ray F.

      Hello Maxwell, beneficiaries living abroad receive the SSA-7162 annually or biannually depending upon the countries in which they reside.
      We recommend that individuals living outside the United States contact the nearest Federal Benefit Unit or U.S. embassy in the area, for any assistance related to Social Security programs and benefits. Also, our Office of International Operations home page provides more information to assist our customers living abroad.
      We hope this information helps!

  2. Rebecca B.

    I attempted to set up my own account and sadly seem to not have the correct expected responses for my own personal questions. I understand making it difficult for criminals to access personal accounts, however this process seems to make it impossible for someone to legitimately set up their own account!

    • Ray F.

      Hello Rebecca. If you are still having trouble creating an account, please call our dedicated my Social Security-Hotline for assistance. To reach this hotline, call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. At the voice prompt, say “helpdesk”. Sometimes you may have to contact your local Social Security office. Thanks!

  3. Cindy P.

    Can I continue to work after age 65 and receive benefits

    • Ray F.

      Great question, Cindy! You can still work and receive your Social Security retirement benefits at the same time. However, if you are younger than full retirement age (currently age 66), and make more than the yearly earnings limit, this can reduce the number of payments you receive through the year.
      For 2018 that limit is $17,040. This limit changes in the year you reach full retirement age.
      To learn more, please read our publication: “How Work Affects Your Benefits”.
      If you have additional questions, please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and talk with one of our representatives. Thanks!

  4. Jane P.

    What is the maximum income from wages allowable when drawing social security benefits at age 67?

  5. Darlene F.

    I have just been approved for disability social security. Will social security pay me for the 5 month waiting period? Also will I get Medicare a and b?

    • Ray F.

      Hello Darlene, you will receive Medicare after you receive disability benefits for 24 months. We start counting the 24 months from the month you were entitled to receive disability, not the month when you received your first check.
      Current law requires everybody that is approved for disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI program to serve a 5 month waiting period. The 5 month waiting period ensures that during the early months of disability, we do not pay benefits to persons who do not have long-term disabilities. The first Social Security disability benefits will be paid for the sixth full month after the date the disability began. Here is an example: If the state agency decides your disability began on January 15, your first disability benefit will be paid for the month of July. Social Security benefits are paid in the month following the month for which they are due, so you’ll receive your July benefit in August.
      We hope this information helps!

  6. Margaret A.

    I am collecting social security but under FRA and also working part time. I may be getting laid off soon and collecting unemployment.
    does the unemployment earnings count toward the 2018 limit on wages?

    • Ray F.

      Hello Margaret, Social Security does not count unemployment benefits as earnings. Please see “Getting Benefits While Working” for information on this topic. Thanks!

  7. John H.

    I am just looking for a monthly statement of how much I make and can not find where to find it?

  8. Robert G.

    I have recently turned 65 and want to know that even though I do not wish to receive SS benefits at this time do I need to register?

    • Ray F.

      Hello Robert. If you are 65 or older and not ready to start your monthly cash benefits yet, you can use our online retirement application to sign up for Medicare ONLY and apply for your retirement or spouses benefits later.
      Please call our toll free number for further assistance at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thanks!

      • Joyce M.

        If I dial the number above, I get a message that it is not available from my calling area! I live in PA!

  9. Perry R.

    Can a ex government employee recieve disability benefits?

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your question, Perry. You qualify for Social Security benefits by earning Social Security credits when you work in a job and pay Social Security taxes. Credits are the “building blocks” we use to find out whether you have the minimum amount of covered work to qualify for each type of Social Security benefit.
      The number of work credits needed for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which being earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled.
      Until 1984, employment by the federal government was covered under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and not by Social Security. If you worked for a federal agency during those years, you did not pay Social Security tax on your earnings and those earnings are not shown on your record.
      If you need further assistance, you can call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
      We hope this information helps!

  10. Ruth A.

    Hello Social Security! I need a copy of my 2017 Social Security Statement to complete taxes. Tried setting up an account on SS website. Could not verify financial information and blocked attempt to create account. Please advise as to the BEST way to obtain copy of 2017 SS Statement. Thank you! Ruth Ann Rowe

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Ruth Ann. If you are unable to create an account or encounter a problem with your my Social Security account, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. At the voice prompt, say “helpdesk.” You can request a replacement SSA-1099/1042S for Tax Year 2017 by You can also contact or visit your local office. They can assist with a replacement 1099. We hope this helps.

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