If you’re 62 or older, you may have considered taking your Social Security benefit before reaching your full retirement age (FRA), which is between ages 66 and 67 for most older folks in the workforce. The problem is, if you take your benefit early, you’ll get less than you would if you had waited until you reached FRA for the rest of your life.
This isn’t something that is discussed often, but if you find yourself regretting your decision to take a reduced benefit in exchange for receiving it sooner than FRA, there are a couple options that may be available:
Pay your benefit back.
If you decided you don’t want to take Social Security benefits early after all, you can withdraw your application and return any benefits you’ve received (without paying any interest), but only in the first 12 months after you applied. You’ll then be able to re-apply for your benefit in the future.
This option may come in handy if your financial situation improves shortly after you initially apply for your benefit. For example, you may have applied for benefits because of unexpected job loss and then found a well-paying job six months later.
One more detail to note: you can only take advantage of this option once.
Additionally, if money was taken out of your benefit for Medicare premiums or taxes, you must pay those funds back as part of the application withdrawal process as well.
Suspend your benefit.
If you fall between FRA and age 70, you may suspend your benefit payments so that you can accrue delayed retirement credits, increasing your monthly benefit amount by 8% for every year it is suspended.
If you go this route, you can restart whenever you want, though your benefit will restart automatically when you reach age 70.
Of course, there are a few caveats. If you suspend your benefit, anyone else who receives benefits on your work record will have their payments suspended as well except former spouses of divorcees. If you suspend your benefit, any benefits you receive on someone else’s record will also be suspended. And, if you had Medicare Part B premiums deducted from your benefit, you’ll need to pay those back too.
Not sure what to do?
Having buyer’s remorse on taking your Social Security benefit before full retirement age? Not sure if these options are available to you? A financial advisor can help you figure out the right course of action.