Q & A
I’m a New Year’s baby…does that affect my benefit eligibility?
Complete Question: I’m a New Year’s baby, meaning I was born on January 1st. I’m confused by the Social Security eligibility rules because they say something about your eligibility being different if you were born the first of the month or the first of the year. How does that work?
Answer: You are right – being born on the first of the month (which also applies to the first of the year) affects your eligibility. But don’t worry, it actually affects you in a good way. If your birthday is on the first of the month, the Social Security Administration (SSA) pays your benefits as if your birthday was the previous month. Therefore, if your birthday is on the first of the year, then the SSA determines your eligibility and benefits as if you were born December of the previous year. Since full retirement age (FRA) is increasing, this could definitely impact your eligibility if you were born on January 1st. Here are some examples:
As the following example shows, being born only 1 day sooner will give you an extra month of full benefits:
DOB 2/2/1953: FRA is 66, which occurs (as per SSA) in February, 2019
DOB 2/1/1953: FRA is 66, which occurs (as per SSA) in January, 2019
However, the following example shows the effects of being born on the first of the year because the full retirement age is gradually increasing for those people born in 1955 or later:
DOB 1/2/1955: FRA is 66 and 2 months, which occurs (as per SSA) in March, 2021
DOB 1/1/1955: FRA is 66, which occurs (as per SSA) in December, 2020
As the second example shows, being born only 1 day earlier significantly increases your benefits because you can collect full benefits 3 months earlier. So being a New Year’s baby actually works in your favor!