Can My Husband Take Retroactive Benefits Now And Still Be Allowed To Suspend His Benefits Later?

Dec 15 2016 - 11:30am

My husband turned 66 May 5 and didn't file for Social Security, thinking he would try to maximize his total monthly benefit by waiting. However we have had a financial crisis and he now needs to apply. If he takes the 6 months retroactive benefits (which would help us through this emergency), but then got the job he has been hoping to get hired for sometime in 2017, could he suspend his monthly benefits and start re accruing the 8% per year again? Some articles I read indicate that taking retroactive payments permanently reduces the amount of benefits, other information indicates that suspension of payment after FRA age will always trigger the re accrual of the additional 8% until age 70. Would you kindly clarify? Thank you so much!

Hi,

Yes, he can still voluntarily suspend his benefits later if he files and receives 6 months of back pay. However, under the new rules passed by Congress last year (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/suspendfaq.html), the earliest that he could suspend his benefits is the month after the month he requests suspension. And, once benefits are in suspense, the earliest that they can be reinstated is the month after the month of the request for reinstatement.

The articles you mention that say that taking retroactive benefits permanently reduce the person's benefit rate are correct, in that the person will never receive delayed retirement credits (DRC) for months that they are paid benefits. So, if your husband receives retroactive benefits back to age 66 and then suspends his benefits from age 67 to 70, his age 70 rate will be 24% higher than his age 66 rate, but not 32% higher like they would have been had he not received a years worth of benefits.

Best, Jerry