Social Security pays benefits in the month following the month for which they are due. For example, the January benefit is paid in February.
For most beneficiaries, the payment date depends on your birth date. If you are receiving payments on the record of a retired, disabled or deceased worker (for example, spousal or survivor benefits), that person's birthday sets the schedule.
Here's how it works:
- If the birthday is on the 1st through the 10th, you are paid on the second Wednesday of each month.
- If the birthday is on the 11th through the 20th, you are paid on the third Wednesday of the month.
- If the birthday is on the 21st through the 31st, you are paid on the fourth Wednesday of the month.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) adopted this staggered schedule in June 1997. Prior to that, all benefit payments went out on the third day of the month, but that became unwieldy as the number of beneficiaries grew.
Most people who started receiving benefits before May 1, 1997, are still paid on the third of the month. The third is also the monthly pay date for Social Security beneficiaries who live abroad, and for people who receive both Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits.
Social Security has an online calendar showing all the payment dates for 2021.
Keep in mind
- Social Security no longer pays benefits by check. You can receive benefits by direct deposit or via a Direct Express debit card.
- If a scheduled payment date falls on a weekend or federal holiday, payments are made on the first preceding day that isn't a Saturday, Sunday or holiday. For example, the second Wednesday of November 2020 was Veterans Day, so payments were made on Tuesday, November 10.
Updated February 11, 2021
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