Senior Living



Social Security and You: Social Security Rules (Not Reps) Confuse Readers

Tom Margenau on

I'm guessing you filed your Social Security claim in June. At that time, you could have said you wanted the 6 months' worth of retroactive benefits. In other words, that means January 2020 would have been your starting date. Had you done that, you would have received the big back-pay check. But your ongoing benefit rate would be smaller. Why? Because you wouldn't be eligible for any delayed retirement credits after January. That means your ongoing benefit rate would be about 5% less.

If you want, you could call the SSA and tell them you want to change your start date to January. But then be prepared for a little less money each month in the future.

Q: I feel I have been lied to and cheated. I turned 62 on June 23 and applied over the phone for my Social Security benefits to start then. I know Social Security checks come a month late. So, I expected my first check to show up in July. But the SSA clerk I talked to told me my first check wouldn't come until August. She couldn't explain why, and I just assumed she was wrong. But I just received my official benefit letter from the SSA, and it says my first check won't show up until Aug. 26! Why am I being cheated out of one month's Social Security check?

A: You aren't being cheated out of anything. It's too bad the Social Security representative couldn't explain the rules to you. But now I will.

In the 1980s, the Reagan administration and Congress were looking for some ways to save a few nickels in Social Security outlays. And one of the little gimmicks they came up with was a law that says you must be 62 for an entire month before you can get your first Social Security check.


You turned 62 near the end of June, so that means July is the first month that you are age 62 for the whole month. So, the July check is the first one you are due. And based on your day of birth, the July check will be sent to you on the fourth Wednesday in August.


If you have a Social Security question, Tom Margenau has the answer. Contact him at To find out more about Tom Margenau and to read past columns and see features from other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at




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