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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

2019 Military Service and Social Security


Earnings for active duty military service or active duty

training have been covered under Social Security

since 1957.

Social Security has covered inactive duty service in

the armed forces reserves (such as weekend drills)

since 1988.

If you served in the military before 1957, you didn’t

pay Social Security taxes, but we gave you special

credit for some of your service.

You can get both Social Security benefits and military

retirement. Generally, 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.

Social Security and Medicare taxes

While you’re in military service, you pay Social

Security taxes, just as civilian employees do. You

currently pay a 6.2 percent Social Security tax on

up to $128,400 of your earnings. The Medicare tax

rate is 1.45 percent on all wages, and high-income

earners pay an additional 0.9 percent on earnings

above certain amounts.

How your work qualifies you for

Social Security

To qualify for benefits, you must earn credits by

working and paying Social Security taxes. The

number of credits you need to qualify depends on

your age and the type of benefit for which you’re

eligible. In 2018, you’ll receive four credits if you earn

at least $5,280. The minimum amount of earnings

needed to get credit for your work goes up each year.

The maximum number of credits you can earn in one

year is four. No one needs more than 10 years of

work, or 40 credits.

Extra 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.

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 don’t 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


through 2001


From 1957 through 1977,

you’re 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’re 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


including attendance at a service academy,

you didn’t 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’re still on active duty; or

You’re applying for survivors benefits and the

veteran died while on active duty.

You can’t receive credit for these special earnings if

you’re 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.


In all cases, the additional earnings are credited

to the earnings that we average over your working

lifetime, not directly to your monthly benefit amount.

Your benefits

In addition to retirement benefits, Social Security pays

survivors benefits to your family when you die. You

also can get Social Security benefits for you and your

family if you become disabled. For more information

about these benefits, ask us for

Understanding the


(Publication No. 05-10024)


If you became disabled while on active military

service on or after October 1, 2001, visit

to find

out how you can receive expedited processing of

your disability claim.

When you apply for Social Security benefits,

you’ll be asked for proof of your military service

(DD Form 214) or information about your Reserve or

National Guard service.

When you are eligible for Medicare

If you have health care insurance from the Department

of Veterans Affairs (VA) or under the TRICARE or

CHAMPVA program, your health benefits may change

or end when you become eligible for Medicare. You

should contact the VA, the Department of Defense or a

military health benefits advisor for more information

You can work and get retirement benefits

You can retire as early as age 62. But if you do, your

Social Security benefits will be reduced and won’t be

increased when you reach full retirement age. If you

decide to apply for benefits before your full retirement

age, you can work and still get some Social Security

benefits. There are limits on how much you can earn

without losing some or all of your retirement benefits.

These limits change each year. When you apply for

benefits, we’ll tell you what the limits are at that time

and whether work will affect your monthly benefits.

When you reach your full retirement age, you can

earn as much as you are able and still get all of your

Social Security benefits.

The full retirement age is 66 for people born from

1943 through 1954, and it will gradually increase

to age 67 for those born in 1960 and later. To help

you decide the best time to retire, contact us for

Retirement Benefits

(Publication No. 05-10035)


Contacting Social Security

The most convenient way to contact us anytime,

anywhere is to visit


There, you can: apply for benefits; open a


Social Security

account, which you can use

to review your

Social Security Statement

, verify

your earnings, print a benefit verification letter,

change your direct deposit information, request a

replacement Medicare card, and get a replacement

SSA-1099/1042S; obtain valuable information;

find publications

; get answers to frequently asked


; and much more.

If you don’t have access to the internet, we

offer many automated services by telephone,

24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us toll-free



or at our TTY number,


, if you’re deaf or hard of hearing.

If you need to speak to a person, we can answer your

calls from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

We ask for your patience during busy periods since

you may experience a higher than usual rate of busy

signals and longer hold times to speak to us. We look

forward to serving you.