Claim Your Social Security Retirement Benefits Too Early? You Can Claim, Suspend, & Restart

If you joined 35% of Americans in claiming your Social Security (SS) retirement benefits before getting to your full retirement age, you should know that decision wasn’t final. 

Many people think they have to claim their Social Security retirement benefits at age 62, or decide to do so because of an immediate financial need. Most people don’t realize that you can claim your inflation-adjusted Social Security retirement benefits anytime between the ages of 62 and 70. Actually, the longer you wait, the larger your monthly paycheck will be. 

After receiving SS retirement benefits for a year or two, your financial situation might have changed. You’re not alone. Recovering from a chronic illness, changing your daily routine, or simply readjusting your budget after retirement are only a few reasons why Americans re-evaluate their decision to file for SS retirement benefits. 

If you decide you would rather wait to claim your benefits for a larger monthly payout during your first year of receiving benefits, you can withdraw your application for SS retirement benefits and pay back the benefits you received that year. You can file again any time before age 70.  

Even if you are past your first year of receiving SS retirement benefits, it’s not too late to change your mind. By taking advantage of the claim-suspend-restart (CSR) strategy, you can pause your benefits now to boost them later. This strategy involves suspending your Social Security retirement benefits for 1 to 3 years after you reach your full retirement age and restarting the claim later. For every full year you suspend your benefits they are guaranteed to grow by 8%, capped at a 24% increase after three years. 

Don’t leave money on the table. If you’re second-guessing your decision to file SS retirement benefits before age 70, consider all your options. Everyone’s retirement looks different, so weigh your options carefully before using the CSR strategy. 

For more information on Social Security, long-term planning, and avoiding financial toxicity, check out TriageCancer’s resources on Finances. 

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