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Extra Work Credits Given to Military Service Members

If you are eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and are found disabled by the SSA, your monthly benefit amount will depend on your earnings, averaged over your working lifetime. Normally, the higher your earnings, the higher your monthly benefit. There are special circumstances in which extra earnings can be applied to your military pay record for Social Security purposes. Extra earnings are given for periods of active duty or active duty for training. These extra earnings may help you qualify for DIB or increase the amount of your monthly benefit.

If you served in the military after 1956, you paid Social Security taxes on those earnings. Since 1988, inactive duty service in the Armed Forces reserves (such as weekend drills) has also been covered by Social Security.

Under certain circumstances, extra earnings for periods of active duty from 1957 through 2001 can also be credited to your Social Security earnings record for disability benefit purposes.

  • From 1957 through 1967, Social Security will add the extra work credits to your record when you apply for DIB.
  • From 1968 through 2001, your extra work credits were automatically added to your pay record by the Social Security.
  • After 2001, there are no special extra earnings credits for military service.

The information that follows explains how you can get credit for special extra earnings and applies only to active duty military service earnings from 1957 through 2001.

  • From 1957 through 1977, Social Security credited your military pay record with $300 in additional earnings for each calendar quarter in which you received active duty basic pay.
  • From 1978 through 2001, For every $300 you earned in active duty basic pay, Social Security credited you with an additional $100 in earnings up to a maximum of $1,200 a year. If you enlisted after September 7, 1980, and didn’t serve at least 24 months of active duty or complete your full tour, you may not qualify to receive the additional earnings. Contact Social Security for details.

If you served in the military from 1940 through 1956, including attendance at a service academy, you did not pay Social Security taxes. However, your Social Security record may be credited with $160 a month in earnings for military service from September 16, 1940 through December 31, 1956, if you meet the following criteria:

  • You were honorably discharged after 90 or more days of active duty, or you were released because of a disability or injury received in the line of duty; or
  • You are still on active duty; or
  • You are applying for survivor’s benefits and the veteran died while on active duty.

Social Security will not give you credit for these special earnings if you are already receiving a federal benefit based on the same years of service. However, there is one exception: If you were on active duty after 1956, you can still get the special earnings for 1951 through 1956, even if you’re receiving a military retirement based on service during that period. Contact Social Security for details.

It is important to note that these extra earnings credits will be added to your earnings record when you apply for Disability Insurance Benefits.