It’s not often that you get a second chance when it comes to important life milestones. Thankfully, regarding Social Security Retirement benefits, the SSA has created two ways to receive a second chance if you think you filed too soon.

Did I file for my retirement benefits too soon?

There are many reasons you might be wondering if you started receiving your benefits too soon:

  1. If you filed for Social Security earlier than your full retirement age.
    In this case, there is a possibility you may have decreased the amount of money you could receive over the course of your retirement. Please visit the SSA’s website for more information on the requirements for full retirement age or more details about early retirement deductions.
  2. If you wanted to increase the payout amount you could receive.
    The Social Security Administration’s website suggests that every full year past your full retirement age that you do not collect benefits, your payments can increase up to 8%.
  3. If you filed at the correct age but then decided to continue working.
    Even if you choose to work reduced hours, if your income reaches a level where retirement benefits do not become necessary, you could face taxation and a reduction in benefits. The yearly earnings limit for full retirement age in 2017 is $44,880. If, while retired at full retirement age, you earn above that, the SSA will take $1 for every $3 above the amount. For more information on working while retired, please visit the SSA’s website.

Regardless of the reason as to why you believe you might have filed too early, the Social Security Administration has two possible ways to undo your decision to receive your retirement benefits: an application withdrawal or a suspension of benefits.

Application Withdrawal

If you have received benefits for less than twelve (12) months and haven’t previously withdrawn, the Social Security Administration has a process for withdrawing your application as if it was never submitted.

First, you will need to fill out a 521 Form, or a Request for Withdrawal of Application form, found here. This document covers basic information about you as well as your reason for withdrawal. It also ask for your spouse’s signature because your withdrawal may stop their payments as well.

If your request is approved, there are a few actions you will need to take:

  1. Repay all of the benefits you have received
    You will be responsible for returning the sum of all payments you have received as well as any money which was withheld to pay Medicare Part B, C or D premiums. Once approved, the SSA will tell you the full amount that you owe.
  2. Decide if you want to continue receiving Medicare Benefits
    Withdrawal of your Medicare benefits is not necessary. If you do choose to withdraw from Medicare Part A, you must repay benefits which have already been disbursed. Medicare Parts B, C, and D are slightly different and could have future implications on what you can receive. For more information on Medicare and withdrawal from it, please visit the SSA’s website.
  3. File an amended Tax Return
    If your benefit payments affected the amount you owed in taxes, this amended return will ensure that the correct amount is reflected.

Withdrawal can be a great do-over tool, when used properly, because it gives you the ability to reapply in the future with no repercussions.

Suspension of Benefits

If you do not meet the criteria for withdrawal discussed above, you have a second do-over option: suspending your benefits. This option is available if you have reached your full retirement age but are still under age 70. This action, similar to a withdrawal, will also affect the benefits of those who receive payments through you, except for a divorced spouse.

To suspend your benefits, you can simply call or write a letter to the Social Security Administration explaining the situation and stating that you would like to have your benefits suspended.

Your benefits will automatically be paid out once you reach age 70. If you choose to restart your benefits before age 70, you must, once again, call or write a letter to the SSA simply requesting a reinstatement of your benefits.

A Second Chance

Thankfully, if your financial circumstances change and you need a do-over on your Social Security Benefits, the SSA has a path to a second chance. For help with your withdrawal or suspension, or for more information on your Social Security benefits, please contact Disability Associates experienced attorneys online or by phone at 410.686.2227.