Social Security has a number of offbeat “quirks.” Here are the top 10, including how to turn your payments into zombies. Quirk No. 10: Your birthday isn't your birthday Federal law says you "attain" any age the day before your birthday. So if you're aiming for a critical birthday — like 62 for Social Security or 65 for Medicare — you actually reach that age a day early. Quirk No. 9: Your birth month isn't your birth month Social Security says that you must be eligible "throughout a month" to receive payment. For example, if you want Social Security at 62 with a June 15 birthday, you're eligible in July, the first month you're 62 throughout the month. If your birthday is on the first of the month, you'd attain your age the day before (Quirk No. 10), and be eligible throughout your birth month. Born on January 1? Then your birth year would be changed. Note: Medicare is different. You're eligible for Medicare on the first of the month you attain age 65. That would be your birth month for most, or the preceding month if your birthday is on the first. Quirk No. 8: Your payment month isn't your payment month Social Security payments are "for" the previous month. So if your birthday is on June 15, your eligibility month is July, and your payment will come in August. Quirk No. 7: Your death month isn't your death month You must be eligible "throughout a month" to be paid (Quirk No. 9). For a midmonth death, the next Social Security payment must be returned. For example, if death occurs on July 15, the July check — paid in August, under Quirk No. 8 — must be returned to SSA. Quirk No. 6: Your full retirement age isn't the same as everyone else's Social Security's "full retirement age," or FRA, is moving from 65 to 67. New FRAs are being phased in over many years, based on your birth year. If your birthday is Jan. 1, your birth year is the previous year. (Quirk No. 9). The earlier birth year determines your FRA. Quirk No. 5: Your FRA might not be your FRA If you have lost a spouse, the FRA chart for widow(ers) is slightly different from the FRA chart for retirees. Therefore you might have two different FRAs: One for survivor benefits and one for retirement benefits. Quirk No. 4: Your ex-spouse might not be your ex-spouse Social Security pays former spouse benefits if you were married at least 10 years before divorce. If you divorced just before your 10th anniversary, SSA can't recognize your former spouse. Quirk No. 3: A stranger could be boosting your future Social Security If someone accidentally or intentionally works under your Social Security Number, all their earnings go to your record, increasing your future payments. Correct that by contacting SSA. Really. Quirk No. 2: SSA tells you not to photocopy your documents, then they do it The Social Security Administration won't accept photocopies of documents like birth certificates. They need the official "certified" copy with an authentic stamp or seal. But when you provide the official copy, SSA photocopies it for your file. (You get your original back). Is that hypocritical? No, the SSA employee certifies that the photocopy is a true copy of the official document. That's different from homemade photocopies that could be, well, questionable. Quirk No. 1: Turn your payments into ‘zombies’ From FRA to age 70 you can voluntarily suspend your retirement payments for any month. Then your record is like a zombie: Alive (active on the computer) but dead (not paying anything). Since it's alive your qualified spouse can get a spousal payment. But since it's dead your payments get higher until reanimated (resumed). For more quirks about voluntary suspension, read my column on “even more ways to profit by suspending Social Security.” This is offered to help you plan your Social Security, not to bad-mouth SSA. Knowing SSA's quirks will pave the way. All these quirks and more are detailed in my book, “Social Security: The Inside Story.” Always consult SSA for official information.