Facts About Social Security and Your Military Service
By Debbie Gregory.
Did you know you can receive both Social Security benefits and military retirement? Under most circumstances, there is no reduction of Social Security benefits because of your military retirement benefits. You’ll get your full Social Security benefit based on your earnings.
Since 1957, if you had military service earnings for active duty (including active duty for training), 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. If you served in the military before 1957, you did not pay Social Security taxes, but you are given special credit for some of your service.
During your service, you pay Social Security taxes just the same as civilians do. In order to qualify for benefits, you must have worked and paid Social Security taxes for at least ten years, including your civilian employment.
Your benefit amount depends on your earnings, averaged over your working lifetime. So, for the most part, the higher your earnings, the higher your Social Security benefit will be.
When you apply for Social Security benefits, you will be asked for proof of your military service (DD Form 214) or information about your reserve or National Guard service. In addition to providing retirement benefits, Social Security benefits are paid out to you and your family if you become disabled. Social Security pays survivors benefits to your family when you die.
While you can retire as early as age 62, your Social Security benefits will be permanently reduced. If you delay applying for benefits until your full retirement age, you can work and still get some Social Security benefits, but when you reach your full retirement age, you can get all of your Social Security benefits regardless of your income.
For more information, visit Social Security online or call the Social Security office toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. The TTY number for the deaf and hard of hearing is 800-325-0778.
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