- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 25, 2007

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I talk to many veterans who are not aware that when they apply for Social Security to bring copies of any DD 214s for active service and any documentation to support proof of service in the reserve components since 1988.

Depending on the time of service and status, veterans are eligible for special Social Security credit above what is on their Social Security statement. If the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not ask and the veteran does not bring in military documents, benefits can be lost. This can also affect benefits for those who receive survivors’ Social Security. Survivors also need to know about these additional potential benefits.

Thanks,

Mark O.

Maryland

Dear Mark:

There was a change in special military-service credits in January 2002. The Defense Appropriations Act stopped the special extra earnings that have been credited to military service personnel. Military service in 2002 and future years no longer qualifies for these special extra earnings.

Under certain circumstances, special extra earnings for military service from 1940 through 2001 can be credited to the record for Social Security purposes. These extra earnings may help qualify for Social Security or increase the amount of the Social Security benefit. Special extra earnings are granted for periods of active duty or active duty for training. Special extra earnings are not granted for inactive-duty training.

Social Security cannot, however, add these extra earnings to the record until there is a claim for Social Security benefits. Here’s how the special extra earnings are credited:

For service from 1978 to 2001: For every $300 in active-duty basic pay, the account is credited with an additional $100 in earnings up to a maximum of $1,200 a year. Those enlisted after Sept. 7, 1980, who didn’t complete at least 24 months of active duty or their full tour, may not be able to receive the additional earnings. Check with Social Security for details.

For service from 1957 to 1977: They are credited with $300 in additional earnings for each calendar quarter in which they received active-duty basic pay.

For service for 1940 to 1956: For those in the military during this period, including attendance at a service academy, they did not pay Social Security taxes. However, their Social Security record may be credited with $160 a month in earnings for military service from Sept. 16, 1940, to Dec. 31, 1956, under the following circumstances. If they were honorably discharged after 90 or more days of service, or were released because of a disability or injury received in the line of duty; or are still on active duty; or are applying for survivors benefits and the veteran died while on active duty.

One cannot receive credit for these special extra earnings if they are already receiving a federal benefit based on the same years of service. There is one exception: If the person were on active duty after 1956, they can still get the special earnings for 1951 through 1956, even if they are receiving a military retirement based on service during that period.

Shaft notes

Heavenly praise to a wonderful group of special angels. Here I refer to the Soldiers’ Angels, which was started by Patti Patton-Bader, a self-described “ordinary mother” of an ordinary young man, Sgt. Brandon Varn, who was deployed in Iraq and has since honorably completed his mission and returned to his family.

In the summer of 2003, Sgt. Varn wrote home expressing his concern that some soldiers did not receive any mail or support from home. Mrs. Patton-Bader decided not to allow a situation like that to continue. She contacted a few friends and extended family to ask that they write to a soldier or two. Within a few short months, the Soldiers’ Angels went from a mother writing a few extra letters to an Internet community with thousands of angels worldwide and growing stronger with the addition of new members daily.

With more and more merchants donating services, money and items for packages, the Angels reorganized as a 501(c)3 nonprofit so all donations would be tax deductible.

A community of Angels has developed projects to provide aid and comfort to our military and their families. The Sarge urges all to join the many Soldiers’ Angels to ensure that no soldier, sailor, airman or Marine goes unloved. Please visit the group’s Web site, www.soldiersangels.org/.

In December 2004, a worldwide support forum was created in hopes of providing a place where needs of our heroes can be fulfilled. Thanks to everyone who supports this Web site, and may God bless our troops.

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330; call 202/257-5446; or e-mail [email protected]


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