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 3168 questions.

When Should My Wife Start The Process Of Filing For Benefits?

Category: Filing For Benefits
Dec 13 2017 - 5:23pm

I filed and suspended my Social Security benefits until 70 at age 66 before the April 2016 deadline. My wife will be eligible for spousal benefits the coming April. When should we start the process? In addition, it is my understanding she should request spousal benefits only, and not file for her own Social Security benefits until age 70--correct? Last, can she stay on spousal benefits of it is greater than her own at age 70?


Your wife can file her claim as early as this month if she wants to claim benefits starting with April 2018, but filing in . . . Read More

Is There Some Special Benefit That Must Be Claimed By 1/1/2018?

Category: Miscellaneous
Dec 13 2017 - 5:21pm

Is there some special $64,464 social security benefit that must be claimed no later than 1-1-18?


Not that I know of.

Best, Jerry

How Will I Receive My Delayed Retirement Credits?

Category: Delayed Retirement Credits
Dec 13 2017 - 5:07pm

I'm planning to file for my delayed social security retirement benefits on Sept 2018. I will be 68.5 years old. Will I receive my first check in Oct 2018 for 21 months of delayed credits and then in Jan 2019 receive the full 30 months of delayed credits? My birthday is March 4th 1950. I initially wanted to delay credits until I was age 70 but am running out of money. Thanks for your advice.


If you file for your retirement benefits effective with September 2018, your initial benefit rate will include 22 months of delayed retirement credits (i.e. . . . Read More

Do You Have Any Suggestions For Us?

Category: Miscellaneous
Dec 13 2017 - 4:43pm

We became legal guardians of our Grandson in 2004, when we lost our daughter, and received Social Security monthly payments for him, until he graduated HS in 2016. As we are now 65 & 70....can no longer work and are on a fixed income. (We both get Social Security & I receive a Teacher's Pension), we are struggling financially. Whereas our Grandson had financial aide his first year in college. BECAUSE his average fell, they would not pay out on his Fall Semester (2017) tuition bill. As Louis was struggling academically, we told him to withdraw from classes. Unfortunately . . . Read More

Am I Now Eligible To Receive Survivor Benefits?

Category: Survivor Benefits
Dec 13 2017 - 7:16am

Hello, my husband passed away earlier this year. My two kids are approved to receive survivor's benefits but I was declined due to my income. I am about to be laid off from my job. Am I now eligible to receive survivor's benefits as his surviving spouse? And if so, would this be in lieu of unemployment insurance from the government?


I'm sorry for your loss.

Yes, it sounds like you would be eligible for survivor benefits when you stop working if you have a child who is under age 16 or disabled in your care ( . . . Read More

Do You Have Any Plans For Another Edition Of Your Book?

Category: Miscellaneous
Dec 13 2017 - 7:08am

Larry- I am wondering if you will have another edition of your book "Get Whats Yours"? I have the 2015 and 2016 editions.



Thanks for asking. No newer editions of the book are anticipated unless Congress passes another round of significant changes to the Social Security laws.

Best, Jerry

How Long Can I Continue To Receive Disability Benefits?

Category: Disability Benefits
Dec 12 2017 - 12:00pm

I get regular disability (not Ssi) and I am sixty. How long do I continue to get disability? Then does s retirement benefits start and at what age?


Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) continue indefinitely, unless terminated due to the recipient's return to work or medical improvement. Assuming that neither of those things happen in your case, your SSDI will convert to regular Social Security retirement benefits at the same rate when you reach your full retirement age (https:// . . . Read More

Can You Briefly Explain The Mechanics Involved With Lump Sum Payouts In WEP & GPO Cases?

Category: Non-Covered Pension - WEP / GPO
Dec 12 2017 - 10:36am

Subject: Early non-covered pension lump sum payout and its windfall elimination provision impact.
Category: Non-Covered Pension - WEP / GPO

As a teacher, my wife worked in CA from '84-'91. Her non-covered CalSTRS pension vested at five years, thus after '86. A current projection of her SS covered years after that employment would be 22 years. My understanding is the windfall elimination provision will be applicable here. (And GPO if I pre-decease her.)

Upon leaving CA, a lump sum consisting of both employee and employer contributions was taken in '92 at . . . Read More

Can I Get Both SSI And Disabled Widow's Benefits?

Category: Supplemental Security Income
Dec 12 2017 - 10:21am

My husband passed just as I became eligible for SSI, I am 56 and cannot work, he was self employed for the past 11 years, I have no work history, Can I continue to get my SSI together with disabled widows benefits on his record?


I'm sorry for your loss.

As it's name implies, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs based benefit intended to supplement any income that recipients may have from other sources, such as Social Security. So, if you become entitled to Social Security disabled widow's benefits it will reduce your SSI payments . . . Read More

Is Failure By SSA To Notify Someone Of Their Potential Entitlement Considered Misinformation?

Category: Miscellaneous
Dec 12 2017 - 8:00am

When the SSA is made aware of the death of a person receiving a SS benefit, do they as a matter of policy notify persons that would be eligible for a survivor's benefit? If yes, would their failure to do so likely form the basis for a successful "Mis-information Application" to recover more than 6 months in arrears survivor's benefit?
The specifics of my situation are I have made a restricted application at FRA for spousal benefit on the work record of a former spouse. I intend to apply for the benefit on my own record at age 70. The SSA thus has the knowledge that I . . . Read More