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If you’re receiving Social Security benefits, it’s possible to occasionally receive two checks in the same month. In many cases, this is because you're receiving two separate benefit payments, or because a weekend or holiday fell on the day you would normally receive your benefit check. In some cases, you might be receiving back payments.
You're receiving two separate payments
If you’re currently receiving benefits from Social Security, it’s important to understand which benefits you qualify for, as well as the payment schedule for each type of benefit. There are two main types of Social Security benefits:
Social Security Administration Old-Age, Survivor and Disability Insurance — also referred to as OASDI or SSA — provides benefits for retirees, disabled workers and family members of deceased workers. The OASDI program can be broken down into three main categories that share the same taxes and payment schedules and generally cannot be collected simultaneously:
Social Security retirement benefits, which replace a portion of pre-retirement earnings based on lifetime earnings. You're generally eligible if you're 62 or older and have paid Social Security taxes for 10 or more years.
Social Security survivor income, which are benefits paid to an eligible worker's surviving spouse, dependent parents, or children who are younger than 18 or disabled.
Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, which are benefits paid to eligible adults and children with qualifying disabilities and limited income.
Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, provides supplemental income to low-income individuals who qualify for government income assistance. It's possible to receive SSI in addition to retirement benefits or disability payments. The payment schedule for SSI is different from OASDI.
You might receive two checks each month simply because you qualify for and are enrolled in more than one benefit. If you collect both Social Security benefits and SSI, you'll get the SSI payment on the first of the month and your Social Security payment on the third, according to the Social Security Administration.
A weekend or holiday impacted the schedule
The Supplemental Security Income program provides benefits to low-income individuals who qualify for government assistance if they are older than 65, blind or disabled. SSI payments go out to individuals on the first calendar day of every month. However, if the first of the month happens to fall on a federal holiday or on a weekend, then the payment will go out before the first, on the first day that isn't a weekend or holiday.
In some cases, this may result in qualifying individuals receiving two SSI checks in the same month. For example, Jan. 1, 2023, was a federal holiday and fell on a weekend, so qualifying individuals would have received their SSI benefit on Dec. 30, the last business day of December 2022 which was not a weekend or federal holiday.
OASDI benefits, in contrast, normally don't fall on the first or last day of the month, even with holiday adjustments. They're generally paid out on the second, third or fourth Wednesday of the month, depending on your date of birth. If the Wednesday scheduled for benefits payment falls on a federal holiday, the scheduled payment will default to the first day preceding the Wednesday that isn't a federal holiday. Because of this schedule, it's unlikely that you'll receive two checks in the same month through this program. But it's still possible if you're also receiving SSI, or if you're receiving disability back payments (more on that later).
» Dive deeper: 8 Ways to increase Social Security benefits
You're receiving back payments
If you ever have to apply for disability benefits through Social Security’s OASDI program, it can take three to five months — or even longer — to find out whether you qualify. Even if you’re approved, it usually takes an additional 60 days before you receive any compensation, which is one of the reasons an emergency savings account is recommended as part of a financial plan.
» Learn more: Emergency fund calculator: How much do you need?
After you’re approved, SSDI will issue a lump sum payment of any benefits you missed after you applied, which is dated back to the day you became disabled. SSDI back payments are available to be paid via direct deposit only, so you’ll need to make sure you have an active bank account to receive benefits. Once the monthly benefit has started, you might receive two benefit payments in the same month — one lump sum back payment, plus your normal monthly benefit.