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Monique Curet
By Monique Curet December 1, 2021

Most military veterans get a boost from Social Security, but not in the form of monthly payments

If Your Time is short

Many people who served in the military from 1940 to 2001 are eligible for extra Social Security wage credits that are added to their earnings record, which is used to calculate monthly Social Security payments. But the extra credits do not necessarily result in higher monthly Social Security payments.

The amount of the credit depends on when the person served in the military and for how long. 

A Facebook post that says people who served in the U.S. military before 2002 are entitled to additional monthly income from Social Security is based on a real policy that gives veterans a Social Security boost. But the post gets crucial details wrong.

The viral post says, "If you were in the military before 2002 you get an additional $1,200 a year, ($100 per month) in Social Security. But you have to ask for it and almost no one knows about it."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Many U.S. military veterans who served from 1940 to 2001 are eligible to have extra Social Security wage credits added to their earnings record. A person’s lifetime earnings record is what monthly Social Security benefits payments are based on, so extra wage credits that increase the earnings record might result in higher monthly Social Security payments, though it is not guaranteed.

"This program adds to your overall income factor and may have little effect on your actual monthly Social Security benefit, because the increased earnings do not automatically mean an equal increase in monthly benefits," according to Military.com, a site with military news and resources.

The claim says that those who served before 2002 "get an additional $1,200 a year, ($100 per month)," but that is inaccurate. The amount of extra credits added to the earnings record varies depending on the length of military service and which years the person was in the military.

Those who served from 1940 through 1956 didn’t pay Social Security taxes but received special credit for some of their service.

Those who served from 1957 through 1977 get $300 in additional earnings credit for each calendar quarter in which they received active-duty basic pay; and people who served from 1978 through 2001 get an additional $100 in earnings credit for every $300 in active-duty basic pay up to $1,200 per year, according to the Social Security Administration.

The confusion appears to come from the $1,200 annual cap on the earnings credit that can be applied for those who served from 1978 through 2001. That’s not the amount added to the monthly Social Security benefit, as the Facebook post implies.

The Social Security Administration notes, "In all cases, the additional earnings are credited to the earnings that we average over your working lifetime, not directly to your monthly benefit amount."

The post includes a photo of an undated memo marked "DD 214 Increased Social Security benefits for vets," and one part of the document reads, "You must bring your DD-214 to the Social Security Office and you must ask for this benefit to receive it!" Form DD214 is issued to veterans by the Defense Department and shows details of a person’s discharge from the military.

No one has to specifically request the extra credits in order to receive them. People who served from 1957 through 1967 have the extra credits added to their record when they apply for Social Security benefits, according to the Social Security Administration. People who served from 1968 through 2001 had the credits automatically added to their records.

The extra earnings credit is not available to anyone who served in the military after 2001.

Our ruling

A Facebook post says, "If you were in the military before 2002 you get an additional $1,200 a year, ($100 per month) in Social Security. But you have to ask for it and almost no one knows about it."

The claim is based on a real policy, but it gets crucial details wrong. Many people who served in the military from 1940 to 2001 are eligible for extra wage credits that are added to the earnings record used to calculate monthly Social Security payments. But the extra credits do not necessarily result in higher monthly Social Security payments.

The amount of the credit depends on when the person served in the military and for how long. And for veterans who served from 1968 to 2001, it’s applied automatically.

We rate the claim Mostly False. 

Our Sources

AARP, "What are the 'special credits' that veterans receive for military service?" accessed Nov. 19, 2021

DD214, "Welcome to DD214," accessed Nov. 19, 2021

Email interview, Darren Lutz, Social Security Administration Press Office, Nov. 23, 2021

Facebook post, Oct. 31, 2021

Military.com, "Special Military Social Security Rate," May 7, 2021

PBS NewsHour, "Am I receiving extra Social Security credit for my military service?" March 16, 2015

U.S. News & World Report, "How to Correct Your Social Security Earnings Record," April 5, 2021

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Most military veterans get a boost from Social Security, but not in the form of monthly payments

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