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Social Security Mailbox

How Do Military Special Credits Work?

Time in uniform can boost your wage record — and perhaps your Social Security benefit

Q: If I get a military pension, will it affect my Social Security payment?

A: No. You can get both your military pension and your Social Security benefits, which will be based on your life-long earnings, including any military wage credits. While a military pension won't cut your Social Security benefits, they may be trimmed if you have a civilian government pension from a job in which you did not pay Social Security taxes.

Q: How do I apply for these special credits?

A: According to Social Security, you don't need to. They will be automatically added to your earnings when you apply for retirement or disability benefits. However, it may be wise to ask your Social Security representative whether your work record shows that credits have been added to your account. Meanwhile, you may be asked for proof of your military service.

Q: How do I get proof of my military service?

A: The DD Form 214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge From Active Duty) is the document most often used for this purpose. To obtain this certificate, click here.

For more information, see the online publication Military Service and Social Security or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.

Stan Hinden, a former columnist for The Washington Post, wrote How to Retire Happy: The 12 Most Important Decisions You Must Make Before You Retire. Have a question? Check out the Social Security Mailbox archive. If you don't find your answer there, send an email to the Social Security Mailbox.

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