Q & A
Ask Rusty – Benefit Payment Schedule & Payment Method
Dear Rusty: I’m approaching my full retirement age and about to apply for my Social Security benefits, but I would like to time receipt of my payment to the first of the month when I make out my bills. I’ve asked a number of friends when they get their Social Security and each one seems to have a different answer, so I’m wondering if I can specify when I apply what date I want to get my payment. Also, though some of my friends get their payment by check, I’d really like to have mine deposited directly into my bank account. Can this be done? Signed: Newbie to Social Security
Dear Newbie: Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but you don’t get to choose when you receive your Social Security benefit payment. Rather, it’s determined by Social Security’s payment schedule which is now normally based upon the day of the month you were born. I say “normally” because there are certain exceptions which need to be explained.
Social Security’s payment schedule prior to May 1997 was that all OASDI (old age, survivor & disability insurance) payments were processed on the 3rd day of every month. But in May of 1997 a new payment schedule for newly enrolled OASDI beneficiaries was enacted so that anyone who applied for benefits on or after May 1, 1997 received their payment on either the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th Wednesday of the month, depending upon which day of the month they were born. People born between the 1st and 10th of the month are now paid on the 2nd Wednesday, those born between the 11th and 20th are paid on the 3rd Wednesday, and those born after the 20th are paid on the 4th Wednesday. Those whose benefits started prior to May 1997 are grandfathered into their original benefit payment date of the 3rd of each month. To somewhat complicate matters, people who receive both SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and OASDI benefits also receive their OASDI benefit payment on the 3rd day of every month and there are a few other obscure conditions which might cause OASDI payments to be made on the 3rd. So you can see why you may encounter people who receive their benefits at different times, but the normal is now based upon the day of the month you were born. It’s important to also note that anytime a payment date falls on a weekend or Federal holiday, the benefit will be processed on the first business day preceding the weekend or holiday. To see the benefit payment schedule for 2017, go to https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10031-2017.pdf.
Now the easy part: Yes, you can choose to have your benefit automatically deposited into your bank account instead of receiving a printed check. In fact, the Social Security Administration encourages direct deposit and allows you to easily set that up during the online benefit application process.