One of the most frequent questions Social Security receives has to do with the eligibility for the first check and the last check for Social Security benefits.
You have to be at least 62 to be eligible for a Social Security retirement benefit. At 62, the first month that you are eligible for the benefit is the first month that you are 62 all month long. So, for many people that means the first month of eligibility is the month after the month they turn age 62.
Here is the age 62 rule. An individual born on the first or second day of the month could be entitled to benefits for the month of his or her 62nd birthday. (Social Security follows English law that says that you attain your age the day before your birthday). Birth on any other day of the month would not allow entitlement for the month in which the birth occurs since the individual would not be age 62 for that entire month.
So, let’s use an example to illustrate the rule. Betty will be 62 this year on June 1st. Because of the age 62 rule, Betty attains age 62 on May 31st. Her first month of eligibility will be June and she will receive her check in July (for June). What if she turned age 62 on June 15th? Since she does not turn age 62 on the 1st or 2nd of the month and she isn’t 62 all month long in June, July is her first month of eligibility and she will get her first check in August (for July).
When you start benefits after age 62, you are eligible beginning the month you file for benefits. We will pay you the month after you filed for benefits. Let’s say Betty turned age 64 on March 5th and filed for benefits on her birthday. She will get her first check in April which pays for the month of March.
The Social Security payment being issued is always for the month before. Paying you for the month after it has ended applies to all types of Social Security benefits: retirement, spouse’s, Social Security disability (not SSI) and survivors benefits. These are the benefits that the worker paid FICA taxes on before he retired, became disabled or died.
Being eligible throughout the month or all month long also applies to the month of death of a Social Security beneficiary. To be eligible for the check, the person must have lived all month long to receive the check that comes the next month. That includes throughout the entire last day of the month. If Betty died on March 15, she has not lived throughout the entire month of March. The April check that pays for the month of March must be returned. The check that came in March which pays for February was paid correctly and is due.
Social Security does not pro-rate payments for the birth month or the month of death.