General, Retirement

Military Service and Increased Social Security Benefits

January 13, 2022 • By

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Last Updated: January 18, 2022

Air Force Service Member at homeA misleading letter, from an unknown source, is circulating online that mentions a $1,200 special Social Security earnings credit for people who served in the military. We want to make sure veterans with active and inactive service have the appropriate information that they need and do not take unnecessary action.

Under certain circumstances, special earnings can be credited to your military pay record for Social Security purposes. Since 1957, if you have earnings for active-duty military service or active-duty training, your military service earnings have been covered under Social Security. Since 1988, inactive duty service in the armed forces reserves (such as weekend drills) is also covered by Social Security. If you served in the military before 1957 and did not pay Social Security taxes, we have added special credit to your earnings record for some of your service. These extra earnings may help you qualify for Social Security benefits or increase the amount of your benefit.

These special earnings credits are added to your earnings record automatically when you apply for Social Security benefits. You do not need to contact Social Security.

You can read more in our Military Service and Social Security fact sheet. We take your benefits seriously because we know you depend on them. Thank you for your service!


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About the Author

Dawn Bystry, Deputy Associate Commissioner, Office of Strategic and Digital Communications

Deputy Associate Commissioner, Office of Strategic and Digital Communications

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  1. Brian G.

    I served on regular Army active duty from 1986-1989 then joined the Army Reserves in 1989 and I’m still serving. In order to qualify for extra earnings in the Reserves, I have to have a DD214 before 2001 to count correct?

    Reply
    • Ann C.

      Hi, Brian. Thanks for visiting our blog. If your active duty was after 1967, the extra earnings are already on your record. There are no special extra earnings credits for military service after 2001. For more information, please visit our Retirement Planner. If you have addtional specific questions, please call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., for assistance. You can also contact your local Social Security office. We hope this helps.

      Reply
  2. Elvia

    My husband served in Vietnam in 1957. Just received, information about the Extra Earnings for serving in the military… Does he get the Extra earnings. Is he already getting the military extra earnings?

    Reply
    • Ann C.

      Hi, Elvia. Thanks for visiting our blog. If your husband was in the active military service from 1957 through 1967, special extra earnings were added to his earnings record when he applied for Social Security benefits. If his active duty was after 1967, the extra earnings are already on his record. There are no special extra earnings credits for military service after 2001. For more information, please visit our Retirement Planner. We hope this helps. 

      Reply
  3. David F.

    I am a retired military veteran who did pay into my social security, retire from the military in 1977. I went to work for the Federal Government and also retired from that job in 1992. When I applied for my benifits from social security I was informed that I could not get my full amount becouse I was also was getting a check from O.P.M. Just would like to know what law was passed that prevented me from getting the full amount.

    Reply
    • Ann C.

      Hi, David. Thanks for visiting our blog. A pension based on work that is not covered by Social Security (for example, Federal civil service and some State or local government agencies, such as police officers and some teachers) may cause the amount of your Social Security benefit to be reduced. Your benefit can be reduced based on one of two provisions: The Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision. We hope thsi helps. 

      Reply
  4. Jane B.

    My late husband served in Europe in World War II and did not apply for the extra benefit for veterans serving during World War II in Europe when he applied for SS. Can I apply for this benefit?

    Reply
    • Ann C.

      Hi, Jane. Thanks for visiting our blog. If your husband was in the military from 1940 through 1956, including attendance at a service academy, he did not pay Social Security taxes. However, his records are credited with special earnings that may have helped him qualify for Social Security and Medicare or increase the amount of his Social Security benefit. These special earnings credits are added to his earnings record when he applied for Social Security benefits. For more information, please visit our Retirement Planner page. We hope this helps. 

      Reply
  5. Steve

    I was informed congress passed a law re enacted a law previously done away with which gives us an extra 100.00 per month but only if we apply which I did and recieved the extra in my check 2 months later. What was the name of this bill ? It was all over the internet now I cannot find it and I recently talked to somebody whom is also qualified yet insist it was automatically added to his ! If its automatically added why did I have to apply for it ?

    Reply
  6. Jimmie

    I receive a military retirement and a teachers retirement I just checked my statement of earnings and it doesn’t show either earnings as income. Does retirements count as income for SS purposes? Thank You.

    Reply
    • Ann C.

      Hi, Jimmie. It sounds like you are referring to Working While Receiving Benefits. When we figure out how much to deduct from your benefits, we count only the wages you make from your job or your net profit if you’re self-employed. We include bonuses, commissions, and vacation pay. We don’t count pensions, annuities, investment income, interest, veterans benefits, or other government or military retirement benefits.We hope this helps. 

      Reply
  7. Curtis L.

    I started receiving full retirement social security benefits in February 2022. I served in the U.S. Army from Dec. 1975-April 1992. Are my years on active duty in the military automatically included in my social security monthly payments?

    Reply
    • Ann C.

      Hi, Curtis. Thanks for your question. If your active duty was after 1967, the extra earnings are already on your record. There are no special extra earnings credits for military service after 2001. For more information, please visit our Retirement Planner. We hope this helps. 

      Reply

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