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 4370 questions.

Should I Forego Spousal Benefits Becasue Of My Concern That It Could Cause A Problem For My Spouse?

Category: Same Sex Couples
Aug 19 2018 - 10:47am

My same sex partner and I married in July 2011 after NY began recognizing same-sex marriages. At that time she was age 66 1/2 and was collecting social security spousal benefits on the account of her former husband to whom she had been married for more than 10 years. She called social security to advise of our marriage and was told, "no need to do anything because we don't know how we're going to handle these matters." Following the Obergfell decision, she telephoned again and was told "nothing to do yet; we're figuring out how to handle these situations." She continued to . . . Read More

What Should I Do Now?

Category: Widow's Benefits
Aug 18 2018 - 1:55pm

I am still working and turned 62 in June 2018. I was told by a financial advisor that I should take my deceased husband's social security right away even though i would only receive a small amount and that it would increase the amount I would get at full retirement age.
I did a phone interview with social security recently and was told that it would be a huge mistake to do that and that it would freeze my allowance at the current amount when I plan to retire at age 66.
I'm confused as to why there even are survivor benefits if I can't take advantage of it at all. Or . . . Read More

Can I Also Receive Social Security If I'm On Disability?

Category: Disability Benefits
Aug 18 2018 - 1:32pm

I am 59 I am on Disability. Can I receive Social security.


Well, assuming you mean that you're receiving Social Security disability benefits (SSDI), then you're already drawing your Social Security benefits. Qualifying for SSDI benefits essentially simply permits you to draw your full retirement age benefit rate sooner than when you actually reach full retirement age (FRA). SSDI benefits then automatically convert to regular Social Security retirement benefits at the same rate when the recipient reaches FRA.

You can't receive both SSDI . . . Read More

Can I Apply For Social Security Now Or Next Month With A Starting Date Of August 1?

Category: Filing For Benefits
Aug 17 2018 - 4:09pm

Can I apply for social security now or next month but with starting date Aug 1?


If you're eligible for benefits for the month of August, then yes you could still apply for them this month. If you file your application after August 31st, however, the only way that you could still claim benefits for August is if you're eligible to claim retroactive benefits. And, for example, you can't claim Social Security retirement benefits retroactively unless you are over full retirement age. For more information on this topic, refer to the following section . . . Read More

Is There Anything We Can Do To Speed Up The Processing Of My Wife's Claim?

Category: Filing For Benefits
Aug 17 2018 - 7:28am

2 months ago I applied for social security and received a call the next day. Once i heard I was approved, my wife for spouse benefits to coincide with my start date (8/10)-its been over 2 months and she hasn't heard anything. The SS web site says her application is still processing. Is her delay in hearing about her application seem right to you? Anything we can do to speed it up? Thanks PS-Your Get What's Yours Book was very helpful


There's really no standard processing time for claims filed with Social Security. In some cases it can take less . . . Read More

Will The Changes In SSA Force Me To Switch To My Own Account Sooner?

Category: Filing Strategies
Aug 15 2018 - 4:49pm

I am currently 66yrs old and receiving survivor benefits. I had hoped to try to continue with late husband's account until at least 68. Will the changes in SSA necessitate me activating my own account sooner?

Thank you


No, they won't. And, if your own retirement benefit rate would be higher than your current survivor rate, your best strategy would likely be to wait until age 70 to switch to drawing on your own account. You may want to consider using our maximization software to compare your options and verify your optimal claiming . . . Read More

If I Want To Start Collecting Benefits At Full Retirement Age, What Should I Request As My Starting Date?

Category: Filing Options
Aug 15 2018 - 10:37am

If my birthday is 6 Jul and I want to start collecting Social Security at full retirement age do I need to request 6 Jul as starting date or 1 Aug for example. Will that make any difference? Also, if I start collecting 1Aug, do my earnings for that year (Jan through Jul) will count towards retirement or just full years?


If your birthday is July 6th and you want to start drawing benefits effective with your full retirement age (FRA), you would choose July of the year that you reach FRA as you month of election to start benefits. Social Security . . . Read More

Is There Any Reason Why I Should Register For My Benefits And Suspend Them Before Age 70?

Category: File and Suspend
Aug 15 2018 - 10:23am

I am employed full time and turning 69 in September. I have not registered for Social Security and don't intend to start collecting until age 70. Is there any reason why I should register and suspend before then?


Not unless you have some special reason to do so. You'll receive the same amount of delayed retirement credits (DRC) whether you file for and suspend your benefits until age 70, or if you simply wait until age 70 to apply.

Best, Jerry

Can I Reinstate My Benefits Online?

Category: Suspending Retirement Benefits
Aug 15 2018 - 9:55am

Several years ago I set up a “My Social Security” online account. I did a file & suspend at age 66 so that my wife could claim her spouse benefit, while I delay to increase my own retirement benefit. I turn 70 years old in Arpil 2019. Now, I want my retirement benefits to start effective January 2019 (instead of April).

Can I do this online? If so, how? If not, what is the best way to do it? At the time I did the file & suspend, my PIA was calculated to be $2170 per month. Would my benefit in January be $2820 plus COLA’s?


No, . . . Read More

When Will My Part B Premiums Start Being Deducted From My Social Security Checks?

Category: Medicare
Aug 15 2018 - 9:39am

I am already collecting Social Security and I turn 65 in December. I understand that I will be automatically enrolled in Medicare, with coverage starting in Dec. When will my part B premium start being deducted from my monthly social security check? will this start in Dec? or earlier?


Assuming that you weren't born on December 1st, your Part B Medicare premiums will be withheld from your benefit payments starting in December. The Social Security payment that you receive in December is actually for the month of November, but Medicare premiums are . . . Read More

Getting Started is Easy
Web-based software. Works on ALL browsers. No download.
$40 Annual Household License
$250 Annual Financial Advisor License