Ask Larry

Laurence Kotlikoff Professor of Economics, Boston University and President of Economic Security Planning, Inc.
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 software 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 5641 questions.

How Do I Ensure That I Get All Of My DRCs On My First Check?

Category: Filing For Benefits
Oct 20 2019 - 4:40pm

Larry, turning 69 half in Nov, applying for SS benefits to start Jan 2020 so first check feb, What do i put on the ss application to ensure i get all the DRC on that first check vs the 2 year delay thank you


As long as you specify January 2020 as your month of election to start your Social Security retirement benefits you'll be credited with all of the delayed retirement credits (DRC) you'll earn through December 2019. By the way, Social Security pays benefits behind a month, so your payment for January won't be due until February.

You may . . . Read More

Is There A Way To Appeal A Decision For Widow's Benefits?

Category: Widow's Benefits
Oct 20 2019 - 12:36pm

Is there a way to appeal a decision for widows benefits? My husband and I were together for 10 years but only married 5 days before he passed.?


Yes. First you need to file an application for widow's benefits, and then if your claim is disallowed you would have 60 days in which to file an appeal (

Just for the record, though, you must normally be married for at least 9 months in order to qualify for widow's benefits. So, unless your . . . Read More

Is It True That If My Wife Starts Drawing Her Benefits At Age 62 She Won't Be Able To Get 50% Of My Benefit At A Later Date?

Category: Spousal Benefits
Oct 19 2019 - 2:45pm

Hi Larry, my wife and I were born after the January 2, 1954 time line. My wife will be turning 62 in 11 months. I am the primary breadwinner and intend to wait until 70 to collect my highest benefit. I have been told that if my wife collects at 62 she will be unable to get the 50% of mine at a later date. Is this true? Your column indicates she could get the higher amount but my financial advisor doesn’t think so. I would love to have that cash flow for 8 years as we are the same age. Thanks Larry!


Yes, that's true. If your wife starts drawing . . . Read More

Can I Get Benefits From My First Husband's Record If I Remarried And Then Got Divorced?

Category: Divorced Spousal Benefits
Oct 19 2019 - 2:35pm

hi Larry.i was married to my first husband for 16 years.we divorce.he remarry,still is.i also remarry but devoice my second first ex is getting his i entitled to anything from my first ex.thank you


It sounds like you might be able to qualify for divorced spousal benefits, but you'd need to be at least age 62 to potentially qualify ( Also, if you were born after January 1 . . . Read More

How Can I Ensure That My Daughter Gets The Coverage She Needs?

Category: Supplemental Security Income
Oct 19 2019 - 2:17pm

My daughter is disabled and receives SSI but the problem is they base her benefits off my income. Everytime I make too much money her benefits shut off. She loses her medical coverage and misses her Drs for the entire month. Including speech therapy occupational therapy and specialist. She is 5 years old and can't talk. My daughter has down syndrome. She is completely deaf and has cochlear implants. I have been to social security at least 10 times this year trying to find a way for it to stop. My daughter is being medically neglected by a service she should be benefiting from. . . . Read More

Will My Disability Benefits Stop Because I'll Earn More Than $1,220 This Month?

Category: Disability Benefits
Oct 19 2019 - 1:10pm

Hi Larry,

I'm so confused! Please answer this question, I'm getting conflicting information!
I'm in my 9th trial work period. I'm way over $1,220.00 in this month and a few other
trial work months. Handing in my earnings to my advocate. Will they drop me cause I'm over the
amount, or am I now able to go month to month below or above the $1,220? I'm aware of the grace period
but will I be dropped if my trial work periods were too significant in earnings?? Thanks Rochelle

Hi Rochelle,

I'll do my best to explain the rules, . . . Read More

Can I Still Draw Widow's Benefits On My Former Husband's Record If My Current Marriage Ends?

Category: Filing Options
Oct 19 2019 - 10:10am

I remarried before my eligibility to draw benefits on my late husband. But if my new marriage is not working and I divorce can I still draw my late husband's widow's benefits?


Yes, if your current marriage ends in death or divorce, or if you were at least age 60 when you married your current spouse, you could potentially claim survivor benefits on the record of a former spouse provided that you meet the other requirements ( . . . Read More

Am I Eligible For A Higher Payment Because My Deceased Spouse Would Have Turned Age 66 This Year?

Category: Survivor Benefits
Oct 19 2019 - 10:03am

I've been getting survivor benefits for about 19 years,I was disabled prior to marriage,I'm wondering if my spouse was still alive and he was getting his retirement,he would have turned 66 this year,am i eligible for any hire ss payment?


No. The age that your deceased spouse would currently be if living has nothing to do with your eligibility for benefits nor your benefit rate. You don't mention your age or work history, so I can't tell you whether or not you might qualify for a higher benefit if you filed on your own work record. You may want . . . Read More

Am I Eligible For An Interest Free Loan?

Category: Miscellaneous
Oct 18 2019 - 4:23pm

Lawrence...I am on Social Security Income...I just learned I can apply for a
$1,000 interest free loan. Can I obtain an application from you? If not, where can I call to obtain one.
My local social security office in Jamesville, Wi. had no information.

I would appreciate a phone call or e-mail with the appropriate
application form.

I look forward to hearing from you ar your earliest convenience.

Thank You, Judith

Hi Judith,

I'm not sure what you're referring to, but some internet sites talk about interest free . . . Read More

Can You Tell Me Why I Received A Small Payment In My Account Recently?

Category: Miscellaneous
Oct 18 2019 - 11:41am

I received a small check in my account on the 11th of October I am not due to receive my social security check until the 3rd Wednesday of the month can you tell me what this check is for?


No idea. This is around the time of year that Social Security processes automated earnings recomputations, though, so if you had earnings last year the payment may represent back pay for a benefit rate increase that was due effective January 2019. Whatever the reason is for the extra payment, Social Security should mail you a notice of explanation within about . . . Read More