Social Security: You Can Stop Working and Delay Your Benefits To Earn More Later

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Americans who have reached full retirement age but are not yet age 70 can contact the Social Security Administration and request a delay in retirement benefit payments — something that will result in a higher payment.

See: Social Security — Will My Spouse Get More Money If I Wait To Claim Benefits?
Find: Live Richer Podcast: F.I.R.E Movement Expert Lakisha Simmons on Retiring Early

Suspending your benefit payments until later can earn you delayed retirement credits for each month your benefits are suspended, the SSA said on its website. Those credits turn into more money when you start collecting.

If you apply for benefits and the SSA has not yet determined that you are entitled to them, you can still voluntarily suspend benefits for any month you haven’t received a payment.

Before suspending your payments, there are some things you need to know, according to the SSA:

  • If you are already entitled to benefits, you can voluntarily suspend retirement benefit payments up to age 70. Your benefits will be suspended beginning the month after you make the request.
  • Social Security benefits are paid the month after they are due. For example, if you contact the SSA in June and request that the agency suspend benefits, you will still receive your June benefit payment in July.
  • You don’t have to sign your request to suspend benefit payments. You can contact the SSA on the phone or in writing.
  • If your benefit payments are suspended, they will automatically start again the month you reach age 70.
  • If you change your mind and want the payments to start before age 70, contact the SSA and let it know when you want your benefits reinstated.
  • Voluntary suspension begins no earlier than the month after the month of the request. Suspension can’t begin before then, or before:
    • Your full retirement age.
    • Your month of entitlement to benefits (for initial claims only).
  • If you voluntarily suspend your retirement benefit and others also receive benefits on your record, they won’t be able to receive benefits for the same period that your benefits are suspended. However, a divorced spouse will be able to continue receiving benefits.
  • If you voluntarily suspend your retirement benefits, any benefits you receive on someone else’s record also will be suspended.
  • Your Medicare Part B premiums cannot be deducted from your suspended benefits.
  • If you request voluntary suspension, the SSA will only permit benefit reinstatement the month after your request.
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In the event you return to work while your payments are suspended, your earnings will count toward your benefit calculation and could increase your future payments even more.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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