Signing up for Social Security is a pretty big deal. After decades of hard work and paying for the program, you are finally getting to reap some of the benefits. But as with any financial transition, it can be a little confusing at first.
Your first Social Security check won’t show up in your bank account the day you claim benefits or even the day after. Here’s how to find out when you’ll receive it.
It partly depends on when you apply
You’ll be eligible for Social Security retirement benefits once you turn 62, but you don’t have to sign up that early. Many choose to defer payouts as this will increase the size of their monthly checks little by little until they hit their maximum benefit at 70.
It is up to you to decide when to apply. Procrastinating may be the wisest move if you expect to be in your 80s or older and you have the financial means to cover your bills, as it can give you a greater lifelong benefit. But starting earlier is usually the safer step for those who need help paying their bills and those with shorter life expectancies.
Once you’ve decided when you want to receive benefits, you can figure out when to sign up. You will receive your first Social Security check in the month following the month for which it is due. You will therefore receive your September benefit in October, for example. But you can apply up to four months earlier if you wish. So you can submit an application today and start your benefit in January 2023.
A warning to those applying to 62
Those who apply once they turn 62 may not be eligible for benefits in their month of birth. To be eligible for Social Security, you must be 62 for the entire month. But the government has a strange way of defining this.
If you were born on the first or second of a month, your first month of birth in the year you turn 62 qualifies. But if you were born on a different day of the month, you will be eligible for benefits in the following month.
For example, if you were born on September 15, 1960, you wouldn’t be eligible for Social Security benefits until October 2022 because you’re only 62 for half of September, and you wouldn’t get your first check until November. The same rules apply to anyone whose birthday is between the 3rd and 31st of the month.
When your first check arrives
Once you sign up and start receiving benefits, you will receive your checks on a specific day each month. It depends on what day of the month you were born. Here’s how to find out when you’re being paid:
- Born between the 1st and the 10th: every second Wednesday of the month.
- Born between the 11th and 20th: every third Wednesday of the month.
- Born between the 21st and 31st: Fourth Wednesday of each month.
If you also qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the Social Security Administration will pay these benefits on the first of each month, unless the first falls on a weekend, in which case it will pay the SSI benefits the Friday before.
Everything in a row
Assuming you know when to apply for Social Security, you should be able to use the information above to find out when you can apply and the exact date of your first checkup. Please take a moment to do this before applying.
Make a plan for how you’ll pay your bills until your first check arrives so you don’t face late fees or interest charges. And if you have any questions about when your benefit will be received, you can always contact the Social Insurance Service with your application.