Ask Larry

Professor Laurence Kotlikoff, Economics, Boston University My weekly Ask Larry column ran for almost four years at PBS NewsHours' site. We've now moved Ask Larry to the best place to both answer your general questions and let you calculate your particular optimal benefit collection strategy. I pledge to answer as many questions as possible in the columns below. Please share Ask Larry on social media and consider purchasing our Maximize My Social Security program, which will show you precisely how to get everything you paid for. All my best, Larry

PS, As we are being flooded with questions, I'm also going to have Jerry Lutz, a former Technical Expert at Social Security, as well as my colleagues in the company (Mike O'Connor, our chief SS software engineer, John O'Connor, our head of customer support, and Alex Kotlikoff (my son) and Isaac Yoder, who work on all aspects of product execution and development) help me answer some of your questions. My goal is to give everyone an answer to their questions in relatively short order. As you can read from the questions I have answered, I often am advising people to use our software to figure out precisely what to do. I know the rules, but only the software can figure out cases that may involve finding the best strategy among tens of thousands to millions of alternative strategies. If you have software support questions please log into the site and enter a support ticket.

Displaying 1 - 10 of 3539 questions.

What Would Be My Best Option If I Decide To Take Benefits Early?

Category: Filing Strategies
Feb 23 2018 - 4:44pm

I am 57 and my husband is 56. I stopped working full time in 2013 and only work part time now. My husband continues to work full time. During my 35 full-time working years, my husband and I earned about the same income. He is planning on working until he is 67. If I decide to take my Social Security benefits early , what would be my best option? Should I take mine and draw off my SSI earnings at age 62? Or if I wait til I'm 63 (and my husband 62) can I take spousal benefits (or would that be considered file and suspend)? Additional information is that our estimated SSI monthly . . . Read More

Is This True?

Category: Filing Options
Feb 23 2018 - 4:32pm

My wife was born in 1950 and has not filed for SSA Benefits yet. I was born in 1952 and I am still working. If I understand correctly, we can do this: My wife can file for SSA Benefits on her own record. I could retire at 66, file a restricted application and begin receiving spousal benefits based on my wife's work record and allow the benefits based on my work record continue to grown until I turn 70, at which time I can file for benefits based on my record. Is this true? Second question, if the first is true, when I do file at 70, can my wife then change to receiving spousal . . . Read More

Is There An Income Limit If I Receive SSDI And Not SSI?

Category: Disability Benefits
Feb 23 2018 - 3:31pm

My questions are simple but the answer(s) are elusive online,even on the official SSA site(s).
Background info you first need is as follows;
My wife gets both SSDI and SSI. I get SSDI. Our 2 children draw a check each off my SSDI called either Disability insurance or OASI.
On 1-1-2018 we all got the 2% increase or COLA, due to the cost of living increase of 2017. On the official site it states clearly that, the Maximum Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment amounts increase with the cost-of-living increases that apply to Social Security . . . Read More

How Do I Get Extra Help To Increase My Retirement Benefits?

Category: Retirement Benefits
Feb 23 2018 - 10:01am

I was put on my medical disability and never finish my full Retirement Benefit, well they increase my SSA Benefits to this day.
beside I can't get my late Husband SSI benefits as Survivor benefits their was none on him so I couldn't claim that, so how do I get extra help with my increase on my retirement benefits.


Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) are paid at the same rate as unreduced Social Security retirement benefits, unless the recipient received reduced retirement benefits prior to qualifying for SSDI. In those cases the . . . Read More

Are You Familiar With My Situation?

Category: Earnings Subject To Social Security Taxes
Feb 22 2018 - 4:37pm

I am an employee of Nassau County and currently collect a NYS pension from my prior employment with the New York Police Department. I receive what is called a 211 Waiver which allows me to collect my pension while working for another NYS government municipality. I am precluded from joining the New York State and Local Retirement System due to my employment under the Section 211 of NYS Retirement and Social Security Law, and therefore not eligible to receive another pension from NYS. I was told that I may be permitted to opt out of contributing to Social Security as long as I am . . . Read More

Will I Be Able To Benefits On My Ex-Husband's Record If I Divorce And Remarry My Current Husband?

Category: Divorced Spousal Benefits
Feb 22 2018 - 4:28pm

I called SS and I'm entitled to x husbands ss benifits but I remarried and would need to get divorced from my second marriage to receive benefits from 1st marriage, can I do this and get remarried again to same husband to get the benefits,I think so I'm 65 years old and need the extra income and husband now doesn't have enough to ever receive from his, the SS office told me that. My question is do people do that ?


The answer depends on whether your ex is still alive or not. If your ex is living and you divorced your current husband and became . . . Read More

Can A Child's Social Security Benefits Be Revoked Due To A Parent Being Non-Compliant With School Requirements?

Category: Child Benefits
Feb 22 2018 - 4:22pm

Can a child's social security benefits be revoked due to a parent being noncompliant with school requirements, such as: not attending meetings, failure to give child prescribed medication, or truancy?


No. However, for a child's benefits to continue when they turn age 18, the child must either be disabled or attending secondary school (e.g. high school) on a full-time basis.

Best, Jerry

When Should I Apply For Survivor Benefits?

Category: Widow's Benefits
Feb 22 2018 - 12:22pm

When should I apply for SS survivor benefits after my husband passes? Immediately or wait til the whole estate is settled? He passed at age 66. Before he started receiving his SS benefits he was on disability. When he turned 65 SS changed his status from disabled to straight SS. He continued to receive the same amount. I too am receiving SS. I will be 65 in May. I started receiving my benefits at age 62.


I'm sorry for your loss.

You certainly don't need to wait until the estate is settled, since that would be irrelevant to Social Security . . . Read More

Is Our Case One Of Poorly Trained SSA Agents Or Are They Right?

Category: Spousal Benefits
Feb 22 2018 - 11:59am

Hi Larry,
My husband and I turned 66 in 2016. He was able to "file and suspend" so that I could collect my spousal benefits. We decided that wasn't working for us, so when I turned 67 last October, I began to collect my own benefit. My husband then filed to collect spousal benefits. After 5 months of waiting, he was refused. The official reason on his rejection letter said his own benefit was higher and so he had to take his own benefit, which sounds like deeming. Whenever he spoke to someone (both nationally and locally) he reminded them that we were born in 1950. The . . . Read More

Are There Income Limits On My Son's Disabled Adult Child's Benefits?

Category: Disabled Adult Child Benefits
Feb 22 2018 - 11:48am

My son is 42 yrs old with mental deficiencies from birth. He is drawing Disabled Adult benefits from his father. He is deceased.
Are there income limits? He is working for Goodwill Ability program 55hrs every 2 weeks.
Thank you.


Yes, there are rules limiting earned income. Disabled Adult Child's (DAC) benefits are subject to the same work and earnings rules as other Social Security disability benefits. A beneficiary receiving disability benefits is allowed a 9-month trial work period (TWP) during which their benefits continue . . . Read More