Stopping and restarting Social Security benefits

Stopping and restarting Social Security benefits


I recently got an unexpected inheritance and do not need Social Security income right now. Is it possible to suspend my benefits and restart them at a later age?

There are two different options that allow Social Security beneficiaries to reverse their claiming decision. To be eligible, specific conditions must be met. Here is what you should know.

Withdraw Benefits If you are in your first year of collecting retirement benefits, you can apply to Social Security for a "withdrawal of benefits." They will let you withdraw your original application for retirement benefits, but it must be within 12 months of the date you first claimed them.

If you opt for a withdrawal, Social Security will treat it as if you never applied for benefits in the first place. However, opting for a withdrawal requires you to repay all the benefits received, including those of any family members who have been collecting benefits on your earnings record, such as a spouse or minor child. This requirement also includes repayment of any money withheld from your Social Security payments – for example, to pay your Medicare premiums.

You can only withdraw your application for benefits once, and you can apply again later when the monthly amount would be larger. To withdraw your benefits, fill out Social Security form SSA-521 and send the completed form to your local Social Security office. If you change your mind, you have 60 days from the date they approve your withdrawal to cancel the request.

Suspend Benefits If you are not in the 12-month window or if repaying your Social Security benefits is not financially feasible, there is another option to reverse benefits, although you must be at full retirement age or older to be eligible.

Full retirement age is 66 and 6 months for those born in 1957, but it rises in two-month increments every birth year to 67 for those born in 1960 and later. You can find your full retirement age at

At full retirement age, you can "suspend" your Social Security benefit without the need to repay it. Choosing to suspend will stop your monthly benefits and those of any dependent family members (except a divorced spouse).

During the suspension, you will also accrue delayed retirement credits, which will increase your monthly retirement benefit by up to two-thirds of 1% for each suspended month (or 8% for each suspended year) up until you turn 70.

Suspended benefits would automatically resume at that point. Alternatively, you could choose to resume Social Security benefits earlier, but you would only receive delayed retirement credits for the period when benefits were suspended.

You can request a Social Security suspension over the phone (800-722-1213), in writing or in person at your local Social Security office. The suspension would begin the month after you make the request.

If Social Security benefits are withdrawn or suspended and you are enrolled in Medicare Part B, you will start receiving a quarterly bill from Medicare for payment by mail or electronically. Normally, Medicare Part B premiums ($174.70 per month in 2024 for most beneficiaries) are deducted directly from monthly Social Security payments. You can also sign up for Medicare Easy Pay, a service which automatically deducts your premium payments from your savings or checking account each month.

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