Quirks about Your Social Security Check

Hey, what is there to know about Social Security? While you’re working taxes are taken out of your paycheck and when you retire Social Security pays you. How easy is that?


It’s true, taxes are taken out of your check. And it’s true Social Security pays you when you retire. But there are some particulars—let’s call them oddities—you may not know. So, here we go with the 4-1-1 you need to understand before signing up for your Social Security.


Social Security pays you in arrears

Are you kidding me? If we owe money to Uncle Sam we have to pay on time or face penalties and interest. But when Social Security sends you money, you get paid a month behind and it’s not considered a late payment when the federal government does it.


The SSA is upfront about it, and says every Social Security check is “paid in the month following the month for which they are due.” For example, if you’re due Social Security money in March, it shows up in April.


Paid monthly

This is not a big surprise. Everyone we’ve ever known who gets a Social Security check gets it monthly. But if you’re getting ready to begin receiving your Social Security check, it may be a bit of an adjustment for you. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says about 75% of employers pay on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.


Payment date depends on your birthday

From 1935 when Social Security began until 1997 recipients received their Social Security check in the first three days of the month. Finally, the SSA said the system wasn’t working, that people getting all those checks at the first of the month were overloading Social Security, banks, and the postal service. “Oh, what will we do?” So, Social Security went to payment cycling, where checks are issued three times a month based on your birthday.


  • If your birthday falls the 1st-10th, checks go out the second Wednesday of the month.
  • If your birthday falls the 11th – 20th, checks go out the third Wednesday of the month.
  • If your birthday falls 21st-31st, checks go out the fourth Wednesday of the month.


Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment dates are different

SSI is designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people who have little or no income. It provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. All SSI payments are made on the first of each month.


These are not startling revelations, but they may help you plan a little better as you look at your retirement plans, retirement budget and retirement income.

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