Can I Stop Drawing My Retirement Benefits If I Find A Job?

Jan 26 2017 - 8:00am

I am 64 years old and was laid off from my position as Advertising Manager in August. In order to survive this past November I filed for SS Retirement - which, as we know is considerably less than what it would have been had I waited until 66 or later.

If (BIG if) I am able to locate a full time position and can stop Retirement benefits - to restart at a later date - would I receive what had been projected for my 66 year old benefit or would it be what it I am currently currently receiving - about $300 a month less. I have also heard that if you want the full benefit, you must pay back any SS benefits you have been paid.

Background - I am single, divorced and had been married 22 years. He will be 66 in March and, to date, has not filed for his retirement but, even if he had, my benefit is more than what half of his would be.

What is your advice?

Many thanks!

Hi,

You can't voluntarily suspend your benefits until you reach full retirement age (FRA), but your benefits may stop involuntarily if you return to work due to the Social Security earnings test (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking2.html). If your benefits are suspended because of work and earnings prior to full retirement age, your benefit will be recalculated after you reach full retirement age in order to remove the reduction for any months that you did not receive payment. Your benefit rate will still be permanently reduced for any months that you were paid prior to FRA, though.

In order to receive your full rate in the future, you would have to withdraw the claim you filed and repay any benefits you've received to date. You can only withdraw within 12 months of when you originally became entitled, though, so the clock is ticking on that option (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/withdrawal.html).

Your best strategy may have been to file for divorced spousal benefits at FRA, and then switch to your own record at age 70. That's not possible now, though, unless you withdraw your application for retirement benefits. If you're considering doing that, you should probably run the maximization software available on this website to make sure that this would be your best strategy.

Best, Jerry