Dear Savvy Senior: I am planning to retire and apply for my Social Security benefits in July. When can I expect my first check, and is direct deposit my only option for receiving my monthly payment? — Almost 62
Dear Almost: Generally, Social Security retirement benefits, as well as disability and survivor benefits, are paid in the month after the month they are due. So, if you want to start receiving your Social Security benefits in July, your July benefits will be distributed in August.
The day of the month you receive your benefit payment, however, will depend on your birth date. Here’s the schedule of when you can expect to receive your monthly check.
If you were born on:
>> The first of the month through day 10: Expect your check to be deposited on the second Wednesday of each month.
>> Day 11 to 20: Check deposit is during the third Wednesday of the month.
>> Day 21 to 31: Check deposit is during the fourth Wednesday of the month.
There are, however, a few exceptions to this schedule. For example, if the day your Social Security check is supposed to be deposited happens to be a holiday, your check will be deposited the previous day. And, if you are receiving both Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income payments, your Social Security check will be deposited on the third day of the month.
You should also know that for Social Security beneficiaries who started receiving benefits before 1997, their checks are paid on the third day of the month.
To get a complete schedule of 2022 payment dates, visit SSA.gov/pubs/EN-05-10031-2022.pdf.
There are two ways you can receive your Social Security benefits. Most beneficiaries choose direct deposit into their bank or credit union account because it’s simple, safe and secure. But if you don’t want this option, or you don’t have a bank account that your payments can be deposited into, you can get a Direct Express Debit MasterCard and have your benefits deposited into your card’s account.
This card can then be used to get cash from ATMs, banks or credit union tellers, pay bills online and over the phone, make purchases at stores or locations that accept Debit MasterCard (and get cash back when you make those purchases), and purchase money orders at the U.S. Post Office. The money you spend or withdraw is automatically deducted from your account. And you can check your balance anytime by phone, online or at ATMs.
There’s also no cost to sign up for the card, no monthly fees and no overdraft charges. There are, however, some small fees for optional services you need to be aware of, such as multiple ATM withdrawals. Currently, cardholders get one free ATM withdrawal per month. Additional monthly withdrawals cost 85 cents each, not including a surcharge if you use a non-network ATM. To learn more, visit USDirectExpress.com or call 800-333-1795.
When and how to apply
The Social Security Administration recommends that you apply for benefits three months before you want to start receiving checks. This will give you enough time to make sure you have all the needed information to complete the application. See SSA.gov/hlp/isba/10/isba-checklist.pdf for a checklist of what you’ll need.
You can apply for your Social Security benefits online at SSA.gov, by phone at 800-772-1213 or in person at your local Social Security office — call first to make an appointment.
Jim Miller is a contributor to NBC-TV’s “Today” program and author of “The Savvy Senior.” Send your questions to Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070; or visit savvysenior.org.