Is it Possible to Collect Military Retirement and Social Security Benefits?

April 15, 2021
Dayes Law Firm

The short answer is yes. It is possible to collect military retirement pay and Social Security benefits. Generally, your military pension will not impact your Social Security earnings. Survivors receiving military benefits, however, may see a difference in the survivors’ benefits they can receive from Social Security.

If you have any questions about your benefits or qualifications, Dayes Law Firm is here to help. Request a free no-obligation consultation to get started. Our legal team will review your situation to determine if we may be able to help you pursue the benefits you need. It costs nothing up front to use our services.

Military Retirement Pay and Social Security

Military retirement pay is issued if you meet the minimum years of service. You must remain in the military for at least 20 years to qualify for the lifetime monthly annuity. The lowest age you can retire at is 37. You will only be able to receive a percentage of the pay you earned while on active duty.

Members of the military must pay Social Security taxes on their income the same way civilians do. Because of this, they can also qualify for Social Security benefits without it affecting their retirement.

If you were born in 1954 or earlier, you could receive full Social Security benefits. The full retirement age is 66 if you were born between 1943 and 1954. The full retirement age gradually increases if you were born between 1955 and 1960 until age 67. Anyone born in 1960 or later will receive full benefits at age 67. Benefits can be taken as early as age 62, but the amount received will be reduced.

Special Military Service Credits

Anyone who served in the military between 1957 and 2001 may be able to earn special credits. These credits can either help increase your Social Security earnings or help you qualify for Social Security.

For instance, if you served between 1957 and 1977, you could receive $300 for each calendar quarter that you received active duty base pay. If you served between 1978 and 2001, you could receive an extra $100 for every $300 in active duty base pay (up to a maximum of $1,200 for each year).

It is important to note that if you enlisted in the military after September 7, 1980 and you did not complete a minimum of 24 months of active duty service, you may not be able to get these credits.

Social Security Disability for Military Retirees

In addition to Social Security benefits for military retirees, the Social Security Administration (SSA) also provides disabled veterans disability. You may be able to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provided that you meet the SSA’s definition of fully disabled.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers disability to some veterans without having to be fully disabled to be eligible for benefits. A disability rating will be issued, which can be as low as 10 percent.

Fortunately, you may qualify for SSDI regardless of how much you receive from the VA, the military for your disability, or retirement. Receiving one stream of income does not influence whether you are approved for another, nor does it reduce the amount of compensation you can receive.

Survivor Benefits Under the Military and Social Security

What about the survivor of a military retiree? Once a retiree passes away, his or her military retirement pay stops. These benefits are not continued for a surviving spouse or dependent after death. This is where the military’s Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) can come into play.

The SBP allows a retiree to pass his or her military service benefits onto his or her surviving dependents after death in the form of an annuity. This coverage is optional and can be purchased upon retiring.

However, the survivor benefits paid under a military SBP could be affected by the survivor benefits provided under Social Security. When a disability recipient passes away, certain surviving dependents may be eligible to receive these these benefits. The amount paid is dependent on the deceased person’s employment history and the amount paid into Social Security via payroll taxes.

We Offer a Free and Confidential Consultation

If you are unsure if you qualify and need help getting benefits, reach out to a licensed Phoenix-based Social Security Disability lawyer from our firm today. We are ready to answer any questions you may have about Social Security and other federal government programs with benefits.  

Our firm offers confidential consultations at no cost or obligation to you. We also charge no upfront fees. You pay us nothing unless we help you obtain benefits.

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