Receiving Social Security for the first time can be a freeing experience for some seniors as it often signals the official start of retirement. A number of seniors also rely on Social Security payments for basic household bills, making it all the more important to understand when payments begin. In general, American seniors become eligible for Social Security benefits at the age of 65; however, some seniors can receive payments earlier, but taking this route can reduce the amount of benefits received over the course of one’s lifetime.

Do Social Security Benefits Begin the Month of Your Birthday?

Although many people believe that Social Security payments begin once someone becomes eligible, there’s actually a delay that is dependent on a number of factors. First, to receive benefits, American citizens need to apply for benefits. The application process can take several months, so depending on when you apply, your Social Security Administration benefits may not begin until after you meet the age eligibility requirements.

Second, your first payment will typically not be credited until the first month after the month of your qualifying birthday. This is also the case if you opt to receive early retirement benefits, so no matter when you qualify, you likely won’t see your first payment for at least a month until after the birthday month that qualifies you to receive benefits.

Do Social Security Increases Apply on Your Birthday?

To adjust for cost-of-living increases, Social Security benefits change each year. Increases are based on a number of economic factors and projections, and they generally go into effect each January. This means that everyone who receives an increase will experience the additional benefits starting at the beginning of the year, regardless of month or year of birth.

Does Medicare Follow the Same Schedule?

Many seniors who receive Social Security are also eligible to take part in Medicare to access healthcare benefits. The two, however, are not mutually exclusive, meaning you may receive Medicare benefits without claiming Social Security, even if you are eligible for both. In order to take part in Medicare, you must be a United States citizen who has reached Social Security eligibility age, and you must have accrued 40 credits that are acquired through payroll taxes. This last requirement generally means that you have worked for at least 10 years.

There some situations where specific medical conditions also qualify someone for Medicare benefits without the need to reach the eligibility age of 65. This is known as Social Security disability insurance, or SSDI, and it is administered as a separate program than traditional Social Security benefits. To learn more about the differences in eligibility requirements, contact your local Social Security Administration office.

In terms of the day that Medicare benefits begin in relation to your birthday, most people will begin receiving benefits on the first day of the month of his or her birthday. If your birthday falls on the first day of the month, your benefits will begin the first day of the month before your birthday month. This means that you don’t have to wait until your actual birthday to begin experiencing benefits, but you do have to reach the eligibility age for the year you apply.

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