Did you know that your social security benefits can be suspended if you have reached full retirement age, but are not yet age 70. Based off of the Official Social Security website:
- If you apply for benefits and we have not yet made a determination that you are entitled, you may voluntarily suspend benefits for any month for which you have not received a payment. Your request to suspend benefits may include any retroactive benefits that might be due.
- If you and your current spouse are full retirement age, one of you can apply for social security benefits now and have the payments suspended, while the other applies only for spouse’s benefits. This strategy allows both of you to delay receiving retirement benefits on your own records so you can get delayed retirement credits.
In a recent article by Philip Moeller, an expert on retirement, aging, and health, published by Time.com states:
“Suspending your Social Security benefits as a way of boosting your retirement income can make sense in certain situations. But some readers who tried to follow this strategy say they have encountered problems from an unexpected source—Social Security representatives who either don’t understand how suspending benefits works or actually claim it can’t be done.”
Why would you want to suspend your social security? When you turn 62 and based off of your social security benefits, you are now entitled to begin receiving a monthly check. If you are in a position to suspend your social security, even for a year or two, you will most likely receive higher benefits over your lifetime.
Unfortunately, with social security constantly making changes, closing down offices, and reducing staff, many of the Social Security representatives have not been thoroughly trained and educated on social security rules. For instance, in the article Philip Moeller posts some of the issues that a few of his readers have encountered when speaking with a Social Security representative:
“The agent at our Social Security office said he didn’t know anything about this and that I could check online at socialsecurity.gov and if I found out any additional information on this I could contact him and he would advise me someone I could call and get more information on this. I was shocked that he (a paid official Social Security agent) told me if I found out any additional information on this to come back to the office.”
As I told her, all the agent had to do was check his own web site to become informed. That doesn’t sound like too much to ask, does it?
While this agent did not know about suspending benefits, at least he didn’t provide the wrong information. Here’s an agent who did, according to another reader:
“We both are retired. I am 71 years old. My wife is 67 years old. I started taking Social Security benefits at 66 (my FRA) and my wife started taking early (reduced) benefits at 62 on her own income. We went to the Social Security Administration office today to sign up to stop my wife’s benefits for the next three years and start taking benefits at the age of 70. The SSA office says that we can do that but you have to pay back the total (large) amount that she received from the day she started taking benefits at 62. Without paying that large amount, they said, we cannot do that. We showed them the copy of your article and requested them to review it. We also requested that we would like the office supervisor also to review our case and your article. After reviewing your article, the SSA office supervisor told us that information in your article is incorrect.”
Bottom-line, Social Security rules are complex and must follow specific guidelines. If the social security representative is not familiar with a specific guideline or program, make sure to go to their official Social Security website to do some research.
If you are unable to work because of a physical, mental or emotional disability, find out how our law firm can help with issues such as:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- The appeals process
- Expediting the hearing
- Medical requirements for disability
- Proving your case for disability
- Pain, fatigue and hard to measure symptoms
- ERISA & long term disability
- Social Security benefits for children
- Survivor benefits
- Working while receiving benefits
- Railroad Disabilities
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Contact Russell & Hill, PLLC, social security disability attorneys, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, by filling out and emailing our Case Evaluation Form or call our toll-free number at 425-728-7467 to schedule a free initial consultation.
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