Can I Change the Day That My Social Security Benefits Are Paid?

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Social Security pays benefits to recipients on several different days each month. In most cases, there is no way to change your benefit payment date. However, if you've been receiving benefits since 1997 or if you are changing the basis on which you receive benefits--for example, switching from benefits based on your spouse's earnings to benefits based on your own--then it may be possible to change your payment date.

Payment Dates

People who first applied for Social Security benefits prior to May 1997 generally get their benefits on the third day of each month. If the third falls on a weekend or holiday, those people get their benefits on the nearest preceding business day. Social Security recipients who first applied for benefits on or after May 1, 1997, generally receive their benefits on the second, third or fourth Wednesday of each month, depending on the birthday of the "insured person"--that is, the person whose earnings record is being used to claim the benefits. If you're collecting benefits based on your own work history, your payment date is based on your own birthday; if you're collecting spousal benefits, your payment date is based on your spouse's birthday.

Changing Cycles

If you're among those who receive benefits on the third of every month, you may have the option of changing your payment date to the same birthday-based cycle that applies to other recipients. Under that system, people with a birthday on the first through 10th day of any month--for example, March 1, July 7 or October 10--get their benefits on the second Wednesday of each month. Those with a birthday on the 11th through the 20th get their benefits on the third Wednesday of each month. And those with a birthday on the 21st through 31st get their benefits on the fourth Wednesday of each month. You can choose to switch to this cycle only if everyone collecting benefits based on your record agrees to it. Once you make this choice, it's permanent. You can't go back to getting your benefits paid on the third.

Changing Basis

If you switch the basis of your benefits, you may get a new payment date. Say you're getting spousal benefits based on your ex-spouse's earnings history. You remarry, and you apply to receive benefits based on your new spouse's history. Those benefits will be paid according to your new spouse's birthday. The same thing happens if you want to switch from spousal benefits to benefits based on your own earnings. Your new payment date will be based on your own birthday rather than your spouse's.

Considerations

Even if you can get a new payment date under the conditions described here, you won't get to pick the specific date that Social Security issues your benefits. The date will be assigned based on the birthday of the insured person--you or someone else.

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