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Social Security pays benefits in the month following the month for which they are due. For example, the January benefit is paid in February.
For most beneficiaries, the payment date depends on your birth date. If you are receiving payments on the record of a retired, disabled or deceased worker (for example, spousal or survivor benefits), that person’s birthday sets the schedule.
Here’s how it works:
- If the birthday is on the 1st through the 10th, you are paid on the second Wednesday of each month.
- or If the birthday is on the 11th through the 20th, you are paid on the third Wednesday of the month.
- If the birthday is on the 21st through the 31st, you are paid on the fourth Wednesday of the month.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) adopted this staggered schedule in June 1997. Prior to that, all benefit payments went out on the third day of the month, but that became unwieldy as the number of beneficiaries grew.
Most people who started receiving benefits before May 1, 1997, are still paid on the third of the month. The third is also the monthly pay date for Social Security beneficiaries who live abroad, and for people who receive both Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits.
Social Security has an online calendar showing all the payment dates for 2022.
Keep in mind
- Social Security no longer pays benefits by check. You can receive benefits by direct deposit or via a Direct Express debit card.
- If a scheduled payment date falls on a weekend or federal holiday, payments are made on the first preceding day that isn’t a Saturday, Sunday or holiday. For example, the second Wednesday of November 2020 was Veterans Day, so payments were made on Tuesday, November 10.
When to Expect Your Social Security Checks
Claiming your Social Security payments is a retirement milestone. But not everyone receives their Social Security check on the same date. Benefits are paid out on Wednesdays, and those with a date of birth early in the month receive Social Security payments before those who were born later in the month. Understanding the timing of your Social Security direct deposits can help you manage your retirement finances. Here is a breakdown of when to expect Social Security checks, how benefits are paid and guidelines about when to apply.
When Social Security Is Paid
Social Security checks are normally paid on the second, third and fourth Wednesdays of each month. “The exact arrival date for Social Security checks depends on the recipient’s day of birth,” says William Lipovsky, CEO of First Quarter Finance in Lincoln, Nebraska.
If you were born:
- On the 1st through the 10th: Expect a check to be paid on the second Wednesday of the month.
- and On the 11th through the 20th: Expect a check to be paid on the third Wednesday of the month.
- On the 21st through the 31st: Expect a check to be paid on the fourth Wednesday of the month.
There is a slight change for holidays. “If the payment date falls on a public holiday, the payment will instead be made on the Tuesday just before the originally scheduled date,” Lipovsky says. You can view the schedule for payments during 2021 at ssa.gov.
Social Security checks are no longer mailed to most beneficiaries. You can receive your payment through two ways:
Direct deposit. You can choose to have the Social Security check deposited directly into your bank or credit union account.
Social Security benefits are sent out the month after they are due. “Social Security checks are paid in arrears, so any check received is for the month prior,” says Adam Beaty, a financial planner at Bullogic Wealth Management in Pearland, Texas. For example, your July payment is distributed in August.
Once you start receiving benefits, you might notice that at the beginning of the year, your payment amount is different. The Social Security Administration adjusts payments each year to keep pace with inflation. As prices in the U.S. fluctuate, the benefits you receive could change to help cover the rising costs. The annual cost-of-living adjustment is calculated each October and paid out beginning in January.
When Social Security Payments Will Start
Some of the decision regarding when to start Social Security payments is up to you, but your payments could change depending on the age you sign up. “Currently, the earliest you can start taking Social Security retirement benefits is at age 62,” says Logan Allec, a certified public accountant and founder of Money Done Right in Santa Clarita, California. However, if you choose to start payments at age 62, you will receive a reduced benefit.
To receive your full benefit, you’ll need to wait until you reach full retirement age. Your full retirement age depends on when you were born. If you were born between 1943 and 1954, for instance, your full retirement age is 66. If you were born in 1960 or later, your full retirement age is 67.
Whether you should take Social Security benefits early will depend on your situation. If you need to stop working earlier than your full retirement age due to health reasons, you might decide to start taking Social Security to help cover your bills. However, if you have a large amount set aside for retirement, you could choose to draw from those funds and wait until your full retirement age or up until age 70 to start Social Security payments.
What Day of the Month Do I Get my Social Security Payment?
Timing is everything, and the arrival time of your monthly payment from Social Security can be key to keeping your financial house in order.
As you budget to pay your bills and save for future needs, keep in mind that your monthly retirement or disability benefit will be paid at the same time each month. To see your next payment date, create or log on to your my Social Security online account and go to the “Benefits & Payments” section.
In general, here’s how we assign payment dates:
- If you were born on the 1st through the 10th of the month, you’ll be paid on the second Wednesday of the month;
- If you were born on the 11th through the 20th of the month, you’ll be paid on the third Wednesday of the month; and
- If you were born after the 20th of the month, you’ll be paid on the fourth Wednesday of the month.
There are exceptions. For example, children and spouses who receive benefits based on someone else’s work record will be paid on the same day as the primary beneficiary.
For others, we may issue your payments on the 3rd of each month. Among other reasons, we do this if:
- You filed for benefits before May 1, 1997;
- You also receive a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment;
- Your Medicare premiums are paid for by the state where you live; or
- You live in a foreign country.
Individuals who receive SSI payments due to disability, age, or blindness receive those payments on the 1st of each month.
If your payment date falls on a federal holiday or weekend, you can expect to receive that month’s payment on the weekday immediately prior.