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What are the 'special credits' that veterans receive for military service?

Service members who spent time on active duty from 1940 through 2001 may have extra Social Security wage credits added to their earnings records. Because Social Security benefits are calculated based on a person's lifetime earnings, these credits generally result in higher monthly payments for qualifying veterans. Congress discontinued the special credits for military service in 2002.

The amount of extra credit varies according to how long the veteran served and in what time period. If your active duty occurred from 1940 through 1967, you received the credits when you applied for Social Security benefits. If you served from 1968 through 2001, they were added to your record as you earned them. 

If you believe you qualify for special credits, check with a Social Security representative, by phone at 800-772-1213 or in person at your local Social Security office, to ensure they have been added to your work record. Local offices fully reopened April 7 after being closed to walk-in traffic for more than two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Social Security recommends calling in advance and scheduling an appointment to avoid long waits.

You may be asked for proof of your military service. For more details, see the Social Security pamphlet "Military Service and Social Security."

Keep in mind

You can draw both military retirement pay and Social Security benefits.

Updated April 8, 2022