social security

When Your Birthday Isn’t Your Birthday (According to Social Security)

Social Security benefits and birthdays go hand in hand, but for those born on certain specific days of the year, bureaucracy can add an interesting twist to such a simple concept.

There are a couple of circumstances where the Social Security Administration changes your birthdate for you. Chances are if this applies to you, you already know this, but I thought I’d explain it anyhow just so you’ll know what it’s all about.

First of the Month

If your date of birth falls on the first day of the month, then for Social Security purposes, your Birth Month is actually the month prior to your actual date of birth. So, if you were born on July 1, according to the Social Security Administration, your Birth Month — and therefore the month that your benefit is based upon (for example, Full Retirement Age) — is June. In this example, your Birth Year remains the same, but that’s not always the case … as you’ll see below.

First of January

In the case of a date of birth being Jan. 1, your Birth Month is December, and your Birth Year is the year prior to your actual birth.

Twenty-ninth of February

If you are one of the lucky ones who happens to have been born on Leap Day, meaning Feb. 29, don’t worry! Even though your birthday only comes once every four years, your benefits won’t be affected. The Social Security Administration doesn’t really care what day of the month you were born on, only the month and year. So even though your actual date of birth anniversary doesn’t come every year, the month does, and the Social Security Administration counts February as your Birth Month in your case.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to Social Security, nothing is simple — even your birthday. Make sure you understand all the rules before making your benefit decisions.

About the Author

Jim Blankenship, CFP, EA

President, Blankenship Financial Planning

Jim Blankenship of www.BlankenshipFinancial.com is a practicing fee-only financial planner, author and speaker, in New Berlin, Illinois. He has written three books, including the popular "Social Security Owner's Manual." Jim focuses extensively on Social Security, retirement plans and income taxes in writings on the blog www.FinancialDucksInARow.com.

Most Popular

What Biden Will Do: 24 Policy Plays to Expect From the Next Administration
Politics

What Biden Will Do: 24 Policy Plays to Expect From the Next Administration

The Kiplinger Letter forecasts President-Elect Joe Biden’s biggest priorities -- and the likelihood of progress on them.
November 19, 2020
The 13 Best Healthcare Stocks to Buy for 2021
Kiplinger's Investing Outlook

The 13 Best Healthcare Stocks to Buy for 2021

Most of the best healthcare stocks for 2021 will have some sort of ties to COVID, whether it's producing a vaccine or cure, or benefiting from the vir…
November 20, 2020
16 Worst Gifts to Impulse Buy for the Holidays
shopping

16 Worst Gifts to Impulse Buy for the Holidays

Don't let those holiday sale promotions persuade you into buying something now that will be much cheaper later.
November 18, 2020

Recommended

14 Social Security Tasks You Can Do Online
retirement

14 Social Security Tasks You Can Do Online

Why visit a government office to get your Social Security business done? You can do much of that online.
June 26, 2020
13 States That Tax Social Security Benefits
social security

13 States That Tax Social Security Benefits

You may have dreamed of a tax-free retirement, but if you live in these 13 states, your Social Security benefits are subject to a state tax. That's on…
December 2, 2020
18 States With Scary Death Taxes
inheritance

18 States With Scary Death Taxes

Federal estate taxes are no longer a problem for all but the extremely wealthy, but several states have their own estate taxes and inheritance taxes t…
December 2, 2020
The Best T. Rowe Price Funds for 401(k) Retirement Savers
Kiplinger's Investing Outlook

The Best T. Rowe Price Funds for 401(k) Retirement Savers

A dozen T. Rowe Price mutual funds also have a place among the nation's most popular 401(k) retirement products. Find out which funds belong in your r…
November 27, 2020