Thursday, February 17, 2011

Social Security Special Extra Earnings for Military Service

At last night's meeting, base member Joe Berry informed us about Social Security credits for military service.

I went to the Social Security Administration website, gathered the basic information, and have posted it below. You can read more detailed information about this on the Social Security Administration website in the Electronic Fact Sheet or download the PDF version (you can print out either of these versions). If you have questions about this, you can visit your local Social Security office, go to the website, or call them toll free at 1-800-772-1213.

Military Service and Social Security

Earnings for active duty military service or active duty training have been covered under Social Security since 1957. Social Security has covered inactive duty service in the armed forces reserves (such as weekend drills) since 1988. If you served in the military before 1957, you did not pay Social Security taxes, but the Social Security Administration gave you special credit for some of your service.

Your Social Security benefit depends on your earnings, averaged over your working lifetime. Generally, the higher your earnings, the higher your Social Security benefit. Under certain circumstances, special earnings can be credited to your military pay record for Social Security purposes. The extra earnings are for periods of active duty or active duty for training. These extra earnings may help you qualify for Social Security or increase the amount of your Social Security benefit.

If you served in the military from 1940 through 1956, including attendance at a service academy, you did not pay Social Security taxes. However, your Social Security record may be credited with $160 a month in earnings for military service from September 16, 1940, through December 31, 1956, under the following circumstances:
  • You were honorably discharged after 90 or more days of service, or you were released because of a disability or injury received in the line of duty; or
  • You are still on active duty; or
  • You are applying for survivors benefits and the veteran died while on active duty.
You cannot receive credit for these special earnings if you are already receiving a federal benefit based on the same years of service. There is one exception: If you were on active duty after 1956, you can still get the special earnings for 1951 through 1956, even if you’re receiving a military retirement based on service during that period.

If you served in the military after 1956, you paid Social Security taxes on those earnings. Since 1988, inactive duty service in the Armed Forces reserves (such as weekend drills) has also been covered by Social Security.

Under certain circumstances, special extra earnings for periods of active duty from 1957 through 2001 can also be credited to your Social Security earnings record for benefit purposes.
Special extra earnings credits are granted for periods of active duty or active duty for training. Special extra earnings credits are not granted for inactive duty training.
  • From 1957 through 1967, The Social Security Administration will add the extra credits to your record when you apply for Social Security benefits.
  • From 1968 through 2001, you do not need to do anything to receive these extra credits. The credits were automatically added to your record.
  • After 2001, there are no special extra earnings credits for military service.
The information that follows explains how you can get credit for special extra earnings and applies only to active duty military service earnings from 1957 through 2001.
  • From 1957 through 1977, you are credited with $300 in additional earnings for each calendar quarter in which you received active duty basic pay.
  • From 1978 through 2001, For every $300 in active duty basic pay, you are credited with an additional $100 in earnings up to a maximum of $1,200 a year. If you enlisted after September 7, 1980, and didn’t complete at least 24 months of active duty or your full tour, you may not be able to receive the additional earnings. Check with Social Security for details.
These extra earnings credits are added to your earnings record when you apply for Social Security benefits; but they are not automatic, you must ask for them when you apply for Social Security benefits. When you apply for Social Security benefits, you will be asked for proof of your military service (DD Form 214) or information about your reserve or National Guard service.

NOTE: In all cases, the additional earnings are credited to the earnings that are averaged over your working lifetime, not directly to your monthly benefit amount.

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