When Will My Social Security Payment Arrive?

The payment schedule for benefits depends on your birthday.

Calendar of what day of the month your social security check will arrive.

 © The Balance, 2019

Social Security benefit payments are deposited on the second, third, or fourth Wednesday of each month, depending on your day of birth. This payment schedule has been in effect since June 1997.

The same schedule applies whether you're collecting Social Security retirement benefits, Social Security disability benefits, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Most Social Security recipients are retirees, however. Approximately 49 million individuals and families received retirement benefits in June 2020, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA).

The Usual Schedule

Expect your Social Security payment to be deposited:

  • On the second Wednesday of each month if you were born on the first through the 10th day of the month
  • On the third Wednesday of the each month if you were born between the 11th and 20th day of the month
  • On the fourth Wednesday if you were born between the 21st and the 31st day of the month

Children or spouses who receive benefits based on someone else's work record should receive their payments on the same day as that individual.

Exceptions to the Usual Schedule

Your payment will arrive on an alternate schedule if you fall into certain categories. It will be made on the third day of the month if:

  • Your state is paying your Medicare premiums.
  • You started receiving benefits prior to May 1, 1997.
  • You reside in another country.
  • You're receiving both Social Security benefits and SSI payments.

But there's an exception to the Social Security/SSI rule as well. You'll receive payment on the first of the month rather than the third day if you're receiving SSI due to disability, blindness, or age.

SSI is needs-based. It's not something you paid into over the course of your working career, like Social Security retirement or disability benefits or Medicare, so it's possible to collect for these reasons without also receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits. SSI is intended to pay for basic food, shelter, and clothing needs.

Your payment will come the weekday just before the usual date if your payment date falls on a weekend or a federal holiday.

You can find calendars on the Social Security Administration's website, Schedule of Social Security Benefit Payments 2021, to pin down the exact dates in 2021 depending on your circumstances.

When Will I Receive My First Payment?

Social Security retirement benefits, as well as disability and survivor benefits, are paid in the month after the month the payment represents. For example, you can expect your first direct deposit to occur in June according to the day-of-birth schedule if your first month of receiving benefits is May.

Electronic Delivery of Payments

The Social Security Administration no longer mails paper checks, although the U.S. Department of the Treasury does occasionally make some isolated exceptions to this rule. Otherwise, there are two ways you can receive your benefits:

  • You can request direct deposit. Payments will be automatically posted into your bank account on your payment date.
  • Your benefits will be paid to a Direct Express debit card if you don't have a bank account or you don't sign up for direct deposit. Payments are automatically posted to your card account on your payment day. The card works anywhere that takes Debit Mastercard and you can use it to get cash at ATMs, cash back at the grocery store, or to set up automatic payment of your monthly bills.

You have a third option if you're receiving Social Security disability benefits. You can set up an Electronic Transfer Account with the SSA, which will make automatic payments on your behalf from your disability benefits.

What If My Payment Doesn't Come?

Contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 or find a Social Security office near you if your direct deposit or debit card funds aren't made on time. The SSA asks that you wait three days before reaching out to them, however.

The risk of your "check" being stolen is virtually eliminated if you use the Direct Deposit option because the money is transmitted electronically and directly to your bank account.