Veterans need to look into possible additional Social Security earnings

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 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. You must take your DD-214s to your local social security office and request this additional credit towards your social security earnings.

From 1957 through 1967, we 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. 

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.

These extra earnings credits are added to your earnings record when you apply for Social Security benefits so make sure you take your DD214s with you when you apply.  If you have more than one DD214 make sure you take them all because SSA may not have all of them.

Contact your local Social Security Office with questions about these extra earnings.

 This information was provided to the New Albany Gazette by the Union County Veterans Service office.  

About Chris Elkins

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