By Michael W. Grochowski, Social Security Regional Commissioner in Atlanta
In the United States, people do a lot to recognize and honor the heroes who serve in the Armed Forces and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. July is an appropriate month to recognize veterans and wounded warriors, as we celebrate our nation’s independence.
On July 12, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law a measure to award the U.S. Medal of Honor “to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier-like qualities during the present insurrection.” The first Medal of Honor went to Private Jacob Parrott during the Civil War for his role in the Great Locomotive Chase. According to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, a total of 3,487 medals have been awarded.
Such recognition is important, but perhaps just as important is awarding Social Security benefits to veterans as well. Earnings for active duty military service or active duty training have been covered under Social Security since 1957. Social Security also has covered inactive duty service in the Armed Forces reserves (such as weekend drills) since 1988.
In fact, more than one out of five adult Social Security beneficiaries has served in the military. Veterans and their families make up 35 percent of those receiving Social Security.
If you served in the military before 1957, you did not pay Social Security taxes, but you received special credit for some of your service.
You can get both Social Security benefits and military retirement. Generally, there is no reduction of Social Security benefits because of your military retirement benefits. You’ll get your full Social Security benefit based on your earnings.
If you served in the Armed Forces and you’re planning your retirement, you’ll want to read our publication, Military Service and Social Security, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs. If you are disabled and can no longer work, you may also want to read our publication, Disability Benefits for Wounded Warriors, available at the same web address. Note that Social Security offers veterans expedited processing on their applications for disability benefits.
Another reason July is significant to veterans: On July 3, 1930, Congress signed a bill to authorize the president to issue an executive order establishing the Veterans Administration, or VA. President Herbert Hoover signed Executive Order 5398 to create the VA on July 21 of that same year, 84 years ago. Learn more about the VA and types of benefits it provides at www.va.gov.
Also, you can learn more about military service and Social Security benefits by visiting the Military Service page for wounded warriors and veterans at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/veterans.htm. Social Security thanks you for your service, and we hope we can now be of service to you.