Why Are My Social Security Checks Delayed?

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Welcome to Ask Clark, a column designed to answer your financial questions, by money expert Clark Howard.

What’s With My Social Security Checks Being Delayed?

Greg from Oregon asks: ”I celebrated my 70th birthday and had decided quite some time ago to follow your advice and wait to take my Social Security until I reach this somewhat golden age.

“My first payment would be in August, my birthday month, but I’ve discovered that the Social Security Administration has a policy where they pay a month late. So my promised first check for August came in September, my September check will come this month and on and on.

“In the grand scheme of things, as I look down the road, I’ve ultimately been cheated out of one whole month of benefits. Am I missing something or has the Social Security Administration (SSA) found a way to scam all of us seniors by delaying that very first payment by one month and then never getting caught up?”

Clark’s Take on Why Social Security Checks Are Delayed

Clark says: “You’re right. They do rip you off.”

“You’re paid in arrears, so that’s why, even with your 70th birthday in August, you don’t see the money until September,” he adds.

Your birthday determines your Social Security payment schedule, according to the AARP website:

  • If your birthday is between the first and the 10th day of the month, you’ll get paid on the second Wednesday of each month.
  • If your birthday is between the 11th and the 20th, you’ll get paid on the third Wednesday of the month.
  • If your birthday is between the 21st and the end of the month, you’ll get paid on the fourth Wednesday of the month.

Here is the Social Security Administration’s payment calendar for 2021.

Clark is no fan of this delay, but he does like the delay of holding off on collecting Social Security benefits until age 70 if possible.

If you do that, says Clark, “It means that for as long as you live, you’re going to get a much, much larger check than what you would have received otherwise. And I’ll tell you, there’s no way I’m taking Social security before I turn 70.”


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