October 25, 2014

Social Security Earnings Credits for Military Veterans

I receive a number of inquiries about Social Security earnings credits for veterans.  In researching this issue, it appears that Social Security has a mish-mash of rules about how to credit service hours for veterans, especially for military service in World War II, the Korean War and even Vietnam.

Here is the link to a page that summarizes rules about Social Security earnings credits for veterans.  It appears to me that there is no single answer to this question – it appears that the years of service and the status of the serviceman or servicewoman determine how many credits are awarded.

Social Security has also published a booklet that summarizes the rules for calculating Social Security earnings credit for veterans of military service.  These rules include the following:

If you served in the military from 1940 through 1956, including attendance at a service academy, you did not pay Social Security taxes. However, SSA will credit you with $160 a month in earnings for military service from September 16, 1940, through December 31, 1956, if:

  • 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 are applying for survivors benefits based on a veteran’s work and the veteran died while on active duty.

You cannot receive these special credits if you are receiving a federal ­benefit based on the same years of service, unless you were on active duty after 1956. If you were on active duty after 1956, you can get the special credit for 1951 through 1956, even if you are receiving a military retirement based on service during that period.

If you served in the military from 1957 through 1977, you are credited with $300 in additional earnings for each calendar quarter in which you received active duty basic pay.

If you served in the military from 1978 through 2001, you are credited with an additional $100 in earnings, up to a maximum of $1,200 a year, for every $300 in active duty basic pay. After 2001, additional earnings are no longer credited.

If you began your service after September 7, 1980, and did not complete at least 24 months of active duty or your full tour, you may not be able to receive the additional earnings. Check with SSA for more information.

If you are dealing with this problem, do not hesitate to contact your Senator or U.S. Representative’s office for help.

[tag] Social Security earnings credit for veterans [/tag]

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Jonathan Ginsberg represents Social Security disability claimants in Georgia. In practice for over 23 years, Jonathan publishes a widely known disability blog, a podcast and several disability web sites. In 2004, Jonathan published a "how to" book about Social Security disability called the Disability Answer Guide. Jonathan lives with his wife and 2 children in Atlanta.