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Military Service and Social Security

If you’ve served in the military, then chances are that you’ve paid taxes into the Social Security system on the earnings you made during active (and inactive) military service.  As a current or former service member, your military earnings contribute to and help you qualify for Social Security benefits.

It’s important to note that your earnings from active duty military service and training contribute to your Social Security benefits, but only for training and services rendered from 1957 on.  Earnings from inactive duty service in the armed forces reserve also contribute to your Social Security benefits, but only for training and services rendered from 1988 on.

Many service members worry that their military retirement benefits will interfere with their Social Security benefits.  Fortunately, military retirement benefits do not interfere with Social Security benefits.  You can collect in full on both your Social Security benefits and your military retirement benefits — there is no conflict between the two programs.

Military service does not entitle you to receive Social Security benefits on its own, however.  You will still have to meet the requirements to receive Social Security benefits.  Social Security retirement benefits, for example, require that you have a lengthy enough work record in the form of “credits” to qualify.  If you have two years of active duty in the military and a limited work record thereafter, you may not necessarily meet the minimum requirements to qualify for Social Security benefits.

If you do qualify for Social Security benefits, however, then your military service may entitle you to additional earnings that are credited to your Social Security earnings record.  Let’s take a look.

Special Credits

The special credits — or special extra earnings — program was implemented by the US government in order to provide former and active military with some additional reward for their years of service.  The program applies to active duty military service from 1957-2001 and the earnings thereof (with unique criteria that applies to service from 1940-1956).  Special credits are added to your earnings record automatically.

How does it work?

If you served between 1940 and 1956, your overall Social Security earnings record will be credited with $160 per month of military service/training.  To qualify, you will have to show that: 1) you were honorably discharged due to a disability or injury received in the line of duty; 2) that you’re still on active duty; or 3) that the serving veteran died while on active duty and that you’re applying for survivor benefits.

If you served between 1957 and 1977, your Social Security earnings record will be credited $300 per three months of active duty.

If you served between 1978 and 2001, your Social Security earnings record will be credited $100 for every $300 earned in active duty basic pay.  You will have to show that you served at least two years of active duty or a full tour of duty, however.

The special credits program does not apply for military service rendered after 2001.

If you are a former or active service member, your earnings during active duty military service and training are covered under Social Security.  Government implementation of special credits and other programs allow your years of military service and training to substantially contribute to your Social Security earnings record and eventual benefit payments.

Call 813-264-5363 today to schedule a free consultation with one of the experienced Tampa SSD attorneys at the Law Office of Mike Murburg, P.A.