Social Security benefits are paid the month after they are due. If you want your benefits to start in May then your first payment will be made in June. This sounds a little crazy but your benefit amount is determined by the month you want benefits to start. If you want to have benefits based on your full retirement amount (which is 66 for those born from 1943 and 1954) and you were born in May then you want May to be your start month. This is also called your entitlement month. The benefits are paid in arrears so your June payment is for the month of May.
This applies to anytime you want to start your benefits except if you start at age 62. To claim at age 62, you must be 62 the entire month so generally, you have to wait an extra month. If your birthdate is December 15 and you want to claim at age 62 your first full month of eligibility would not be until January and then you would receive your first payment the following month in February. Remember if you claim early at age 62 and anytime before your full retirement age you will receive a permanently reduced benefit amount.
In addition to the age 62 exception, there is another exception if you are born on the first or second day of the month. For Social Security purposes, your birthday is actually the day before the actual birth date. If you were born on March 1 then Social Security considers you to be a February baby so your eligibility for benefits is based as if your birthday was in the previous month. If you were born on March 2 Social Security considers you to be born as of March 1. In this case, when you reach age 62 you would be considered age 62 for the whole month of March so your benefit would start in March and your first payment would be received in April.
It is recommended that you contact Social Security three months prior to the date you would like benefits to start. At that time, you can go over your available options. Once an application for benefits has been submitted, the applicant can expect benefits to begin one month following their entitlement month. If your entitlement date (the period when an individual meets the minimum age of retirement) is in July, your first social security check will arrive in August.
Benefit payments are determined by your birth date. For those with birthdays between the 1st and 10th, payments will be made on the second Wednesday of every month. If your birth date is between the 11th and 20th, payment is made on the third Wednesday. For those born between the 21st and 31st, payments are made on the fourth Wednesday.
If you plan to delay claiming your own benefit until after you reach full retirement age, you may be eligible to claim spousal benefits before you claim your benefit at a later time. Read our article “Get Paid While You Wait to Get Paid’. If your spouse has claimed or is going to claim their own benefit before you claim your delayed benefit then you should consider filing a Restricted Application” that makes you eligible for spousal benefits.