Social Security application
January 21, 2015 | by Chris Stein, CFP®, Finance Instructor at Colorado State University
Withdrawing Your Social Security Application

When you're done reading, be sure to listen to our audio blog below!

In the past we have mentioned how important it is to fully consider all the ramifications of your choice of when to file for Social Security.  For the most part you get one attempt to do it right and the wrong decision may very well cause you to leave money “on the table”.  But what if you realize this AFTER you already filed?  Is there any hope to “fix” this?  In a word…. Maybe.

Getting a Do-Over

Currently the Social Security Administration (SSA) allows you a once in a lifetime opportunity at a “do-over”, but with some restrictions.  In order to redo your filing decision you generally need to WITHDRAW your application for benefit.  But here are the restrictions:

  1.  You must apply to withdraw your application within 12 months of your original application date. (Prior to December, 2010 there was no 12 month limit)
  2. You must repay ALL benefits that were paid as a result of your application, to include spousal  dependent benefits.
  3. You are allowed only one withdrawal per lifetime.

Why Would You Want To?

So there is a window of opportunity to press the reset button if you regret your original application choice.  There are a variety of reasons you may want to reset your choice, including:

  1. You choose to go back to work and no longer need your benefit.
  2. You want to maximize any potential survivor benefit available to be paid to a surviving spouse.
  3. You decide the larger monthly benefit available by waiting to file is more attractive than your current, lower benefit.

To withdraw your application for benefits you need to fill out form SSA-521, available from a SS office or online.  It is a short one page form that you then turn in to the SSA.  They will review your request and also figure for you the dollar amount that must be paid back to complete your withdrawal request.  Once they notify you of the approval you have 60 days to cancel the request, but assuming you want to proceed you will send them the dollar amount indicated to finalize the withdrawal.  Another thing to note; all other persons whose benefits would be affected must consent to the withdrawal in order for it to be approved.

While it is best to make the best decision on filing for benefits the first time, at least there is a 12 month do-over period to fix any major gaffes, as long as you follow the process described here.

For more information, please use the play button below to listen to our audio post.

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