In the United States, people do a lot to recognize and honor the heroes who serve in the Armed Forces and those who made the ultimate sacrifice. July is an appropriate month to recognize veterans and wounded warriors as we celebrate our nation’s independence.
On July 12, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law a measure to award the U.S. Medal of Honor “to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier-like qualities during the present insurrection.” The first Medal of Honor was awarded to Pvt. Jacob Parrott during the Civil War for his role in the Great Locomotive Chase. According to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, a total of 3,489 medals have been awarded.
Such recognition is important, but it is important also to award Social Security benefits to veterans. Earnings for active duty military service or active duty training have been covered under Social Security since 1957. Social Security has also covered inactive duty service in the Armed Forces reserves (such as weekend drills) since 1988.
In fact, more than one out of five adult Social Security beneficiaries have served in the military. Veterans and their families make up 35 percent of those receiving Social Security.
If you served in the military before 1957, you did not pay Social Security taxes, but you received special credit for some of your service.
You can get both Social Security benefits and military retirement. Generally, there is no reduction of Social Security benefits because of your military retirement benefits. You’ll get your full Social Security benefit based on your earnings.
If you served in the Armed Forces and you are planning your retirement, you’ll want to read our publication, Military Service And Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs. If you are disabled and can no longer work, you may also want to read our publication, Disability Benefits For Wounded Warriors, available at the same web address. Note that Social Security offers veterans expedited processing of their applications for disability benefits.
Another reason July is significant to veterans: Eighty-four years ago, on July 21, 1930, President Herbert Hoover signed Executive Order 5398, creating the Veterans Administration. Learn more about the VA and the types of benefits it provides at www.va.gov.
You can learn more about military service and Social Security benefits by visiting the Military Service page for wounded warriors and veterans at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/veterans.htm. Social Security thanks you for your service. We hope we can now be of service to you.
Jane Yamamoto-Burigsay is Social Security’s public affairs specialist in Hawai‘i.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Question: How can I calculate my own retirement benefit estimate?
Answer: We suggest you use our Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator. Our Retirement Estimator produces estimates based on your actual Social Security earning record, so it’s a personalized, instant picture of your future estimated benefit. Also, you can use it to test different retirement scenarios based on what age you decide to start benefits. For example, you can find out your estimated monthly payments if you retire at age 62, 70 or anytime in between. Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.
SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME
Question: What information do I need to apply for Supplemental Security Income, or SSI?
Answer: Here are some of the things we will ask for when you apply for SSI. Even if you do not have all of the things listed below, apply anyway. The people in the Social Security office can help you. Keep in mind, however, that the more information you can provide, the faster the decision process will be. You will need:
- Your Social Security number;
- Your birth certificate or other proof of your age;
- Information about the home where you live, such as your mortgage or your lease and landlord’s name;
- Payroll slips, bank statements, insurance policies, burial fund records, and other information about your income and the things you own;
- The names, addresses and telephone numbers of doctors, hospitals and clinics that you have been to, if you are applying for SSI because you are disabled or blind;
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or eligible non-citizen status.
If you have a bank or financial institution account, you should have the account number available so we can deposit your benefits directly into your account. Learn more about SSI by reading our online publication, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.