What is the Best Month to Start Social Security?
Many may know the longer you wait to start Social Security the better but does the month of the year we choose make a significant difference as well? In this article we are going to look at the best ways to improve your Social Security intake and whether the month you start your benefits makes any difference.
What Is the Social Security Administration?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is an independent government agency that administers Social Security. It is an insurance program that consists of retirement, disability and survivor benefits. In order to qualify for these benefits most workers pay into the system through Social Security taxes.
The head offices of the Social Security Agency are located in Woodlawn, Maryland and are referred to as the Central Office. There are tens of thousands of workers employed by the Social Security agency and it is the largest government program in the United States.
It is estimated that by the end of the 2022 fiscal year the agency will have paid out $1.2 trillion in benefits to 66 million citizens and legal residents of the United States. An additional $61 billion is expected in SSI benefits and $7.5 million to low-income individuals.
This government agency is a vital part of the country's economy and without it millions of already struggling Americans would have nothing. It is a program that many have paid into for decades in preparation for retirement and as an insurance policy against sudden disability.
History of the Social Security Agency
On August 14th 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law as part of his New Deal initiative. This led to the creation of the Social Security Board (SSB), a presidentially appointed group of three executives tasked with overseeing the Social Security program.
With zero budget, staff or even furniture the SSB finally obtained funding from the Federal Emergency Relief Administration. It was on October 14th 1936 that the first Social Security office opened its doors in Austin, Texas.
In January of 1937 Social Security taxes were first collected. Just a few years later the first Social Security check was issued to Ida Mary Fuller of Battleboro, Vermont. Ida’s check was dated January 31st 1940 and she received $22.54.
The SSB in 1939 merged with the U.S. Public Health Service, the Civilian Conservation Corp and other government agencies to become the Federal Security Agency. In 1846 under President Harry S. Truman the SSB was named the Social Security Administration SSA.
In 1953 the Federal Security Agency was dismantled and the SSA was placed under the banner of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Finally in 1994 President Bill Clinton made the Social Security Administration an independent body once again.
Retirement, Survivors and Disability Benefits
The main three benefits through Social Security follow a similar payment pattern based on the birthdate of the recipient of said benefits.
Retirement benefits from Social Security are earned through the payment of taxes taken from an individual's paycheck throughout their working life. A minimum of 40 credits are required to qualify for full retirement which equates to around 10 years of full time employment.
Social Security Disability Insurance
This program was created to take care of tax paying citizens or legal residents who have contributed to Social Security through the payment of taxes should they become unable to work any longer. This generally kicks in prior to retirement age and does so because an individual has become unable to work due to a physical or mental disability.
This is an important aspect of Social Security as it is designed to take care of dependents of beneficiaries who have passed away. This usually means either the spouse or minor children of the deceased individual who was eligible for a monthly benefit. There are some other dependents who may qualify for survivors payments but this may be on a case by case basis.
Which Dates Do Retirement, Survivors and Disability Payments Get Paid?
These three programs are consistent when it comes to payments, supplying benefits monthly but not on the same day for everyone. Your payment date for these types of benefits will usually be on a Wednesday. It will be based on the beneficiary's birthday as shown below:
- Born 1st – 10th of the month: payment is the second Wednesday of the month
- Born 11th – 20th of the month: payment is the third Wednesday of the month
- Born 21st – 31st of the month: payment is the fourth Wednesday of the month
It should be noted that in survivors' benefits the date of payment reflects the birth date of the deceased individual whose benefits are being given to the dependent. It is not based on the birth date of the recipient of the survivors benefit.
There are certain circumstances under which payments will come on the 3rd of the month and not based on the birth date of the recipient these are:
- The benefits were first filed for before May 1st, 1997
- The beneficiary also receives supplemental security income (SSI) payments
- Medicare premiums are paid for by the state in which the beneficiary lives
- The beneficiary no longer lives in the United States
- The normal payment date of these benefits falls on a federal holiday, meaning the payment will shift to the first weekday prior to that holiday
Is There a Best Month to Start Social Security?
The amount we make in Social Security depends mainly on the age at which we first take our benefits. It is possible to start benefits at 61 years of age but doing so will permanently decrease our benefits going forward. An adjustment will see a percentage removed from your monthly payment amount for each month early we retire before the full retirement age of 67.
Our overall payout is also dependent on how much we pay into the system with those contributing the minimum making less per month than those who paid in the maximum levels. The question we have then is, is there a better month to start Social Security?
The answer is that there is no inherent benefit to starting Social Security in any month; there is no perceivable boost in the amount we receive. The only slight benefit we might get choosing a particular month as our first is if we start in February. Starting in February will mean that the gap between your first and second monthly payments is a couple of days shorter than in most other months.
So yes technically starting in February may get the ball of your Social Security payments rolling a couple of days quicker. Ultimately however this is not a significant benefit and does not net you any more money.
Realistically it's not about the month but instead the age at which we start Social Security that will make a difference in our amount of benefits. You can choose February if you want to make sure your first and second benefit payments are as close as possible but otherwise the month doesn’t matter as long as you have reached full retirement age.
Reference SSA Locator
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"What is the Best Month to Start Social Security?". SSA Locator. Accessed on November 29, 2023. https://ssalocator.com/blog/what-is-the-best-month-to-start-social-security/.
"What is the Best Month to Start Social Security?". SSA Locator, https://ssalocator.com/blog/what-is-the-best-month-to-start-social-security/. Accessed 29 November, 2023
What is the Best Month to Start Social Security?. SSA Locator. Retrieved from https://ssalocator.com/blog/what-is-the-best-month-to-start-social-security/.