What Is Suspending Social Security Benefits and When Should You Do It?

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You may choose to collect your Social Security retirement benefits at age 62, but the amount you collect will be reduced until you reach your full retirement age. Full retirement age varies depending on the year you were born — it’s 66 if you were born from 1943 to 1954, increases gradually if you were born from 1955 to 1960, and it’s 67 if you were born after that.

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If you have reached full retirement age and begin taking payments at that time, you can suspend those benefits until you reach age 70, according to SSA.gov. Why would you want to do this?

If you suspend your retirement benefit payments, you will earn delayed retirement credits and will get higher benefits at age 70 or whenever you decide to start collecting. You must begin collecting benefits at age 70.

How To Suspend Social Security Retirement Benefits

It is easy to suspend your retirement benefits at any time after full retirement age but before age 70. You can call the Social Security office or send a letter requesting to suspend benefits. It will take a month for the request to go into action, so if you ask to suspend benefits in October, you will receive your October benefits in November but will not receive a payment in December.

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You can also make a request in advance to suspend benefits for a future date. In other words, you can request in May to suspend benefits beginning in December. You cannot request to suspend benefits before you reach full retirement age or after the age of 70.

What You Should Know About Suspending Benefits

If you choose to suspend your benefit, you should understand that you must still pay your Medicare Part B payments. Those payments cannot be deducted from suspended benefits. Also, if you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and request to suspend your retirement benefits, you will be ineligible to receive SSI.

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If you have other people (apart from a former spouse) collecting benefits on your record, their benefits will also be suspended.

Why Would You Want to Suspend Social Security Benefits?

If you can live the life you want without your Social Security payments, it can lead to more money in your pocket later on if you can afford to suspend benefits. According to AARP, you will boost your benefit by 2/3 of 1% for each suspended month, or a total of 8% each year you suspend benefits.

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You might delay benefits because your other investments give you enough money to live comfortably. Or, maybe you’ve taken on a part-time job or side gig that is helping to fund your retirement. Whatever the reason, this option exists to boost your retirement income at age 70 by suspending benefits before then.

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About the Author

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who geeks out about finance, e-commerce, technology, and real estate. Her lengthy list of publishing credits include Bankrate, Lending Tree, and Chase Bank. She is the founder and owner of GeekTravelGuide.net, a travel, technology, and entertainment website. She lives on Long Island, New York, with a veritable menagerie that includes 2 cats, a rambunctious kitten, and three lizards of varying sizes and personalities – plus her two kids and husband. Find her on Twitter, @DawnAllcot.
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