Life is full of regrettable decisions. Whether it’s that unfortunate haircut from the 1970s or the ugly matching sweaters you wore in the family photo decades ago, there are choices you wish you could do over. While getting a do-over on something like your cable package could be simple enough, there’s no way you could reverse your Social Security claiming decisions, right? Actually, wrong.

In some cases, you can get a do-over on your Social Security withdrawal strategy.

Let’s start with the basics of claiming Social Security. You’re eligible as soon as you turn 62, although if you start claiming that early, your benefits will be less than if you wait until your Full Retirement Age (FRA). Your FRA depends on when you were born. For most people ready to claim now or soon, it’s between 66 and 67. If you don’t claim as soon as you reach FRA, your benefits will increase by about 8% each year you wait to claim until age 70. Once you turn 70, the benefits stop growing, so there’s no reason to wait to claim.

Let’s say you filed for Social Security at age 63 but realize how much more money you’ll receive if you wait until your FRA or beyond. Is there anything you can do to reverse your decision? Possibly, yes. You can get a do-over if:

  • You withdraw your application within the first 12 months of filing. Note that you can only withdraw your application once. You can’t withdraw, reinstate, and then withdraw again.
  • You repay any benefits you and your family received since you started claiming.

With this do-over, it is as if you never filed. So, you get the benefit of waiting whenever you file in the future.

What if you started claiming at or before FRA but having reached FRA you change your mind and want to wait until you’re 70 so that your benefits grow?

Good news: This is a relatively easy process and there are fewer restrictions. All you have to do is suspend your application. You won’t have to pay back any benefits you’ve already received, and you can re-instate your benefits whenever you’d like before you turn 70. Once you turn 70, your benefits will be automatically reinstated.

If you go the Social Security do-over route, there are some things you’ll want to know:

  • If you’re on Medicare, you’ll start paying Part B premiums on your own. This is because Part B premiums are usually taken out of your Social Security check. If you’re no longer getting your Social Security check, that Medicare Part B premium is not getting paid.
  • If you have dependents claiming benefits on your record and you stop Social Security payments to yourself, their payments will stop too with the exception of divorced spouses who will continue to receive benefits.
  • When you suspend your benefits, any benefits you receive on someone else’s record will also stop.

There aren’t many opportunities in life for a do-over. After all, evidence exists of you in that not-so-flattering jumpsuit from back in the day. Fortunately, when it comes to Social Security, there is the chance of a do-over. Be sure to know your options, the requirements and how it might impact other areas of your life.

 

Disclaimer:
Decisions regarding Social Security are highly personal and depend on a number of factors such as your health and family longevity, whether you plan to work in retirement, whether you have other income sources as well as your anticipated future financial needs and obligations.
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