Chris Stein, CFP®
How to Withdraw Your Social Security Application
Should you file your Social Security application at age 62? Age 67? Age 70? You need to fully consider all the ramifications surrounding the timing of claiming your benefit. 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”.
We recently received the following question from a blog reader who submitted his Social Security application and then wanted to undo it.
“I am 63 years old and filed for SS benefits 9 months ago when I was 62 and had lost my job. I recently got another job opportunity so I would like to revert back to my original plan, which was to claim Social Security as late as possible. I went to the SS office and asked if I could suspend my benefits and was told I could not. Is there anything else I can do?”
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 undo your filing decision you generally need to WITHDRAW your application for benefit. But here are some restrictions:
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)
You must repay ALL benefits that were paid as a result of your application, to include spousal dependent benefits.
You are allowed only one withdrawal per lifetime.
So there is a window of opportunity to press the reset button if you regret your original application choice.
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. 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.
Why Would You Want To?
Other than going back to work and not needing your benefit (like our blog reader), there are a couple of reasons you may want to reset your filing choice, including:
You want to maximize any potential survivor benefit available to be paid to a surviving spouse.
You decide the larger monthly benefit available by waiting to file is more attractive than your current, lower benefit.
Making the best decision on filing for benefits the first time is optimal. But 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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