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 5874 questions.

How Much Will I Receive For SSI?

Category: Disability Benefits
Jan 27 2020 - 7:22am

How much will I receive for SSi. I turned 53 receiving DISABILITY benefits.


SSI is the abbreviation commonly used for Supplemental Security Income, which is a needs based benefit administered by the Social Security Administration. The amount of SSI benefits for which a person can qualify depends on their other income (if any), but the current maximum monthly SSI payment is $783.

On the other hand, if you're referring to Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits those benefit rates vary depending on a person's earnings history. There is . . . Read More

Will My Wife's Regular Benefits Be Reduced If She Files For Spousal Benefits At Age 62 And Then Files For Her Own Benefits At FRA?

Category: Filing Options
Jan 26 2020 - 6:04pm

I am 74 and claimed SS benefits at 70. My wife was born 3/26/1958. If she files for spousal benefits at age 62 + 1 month (reduced amount, I know), when she files for her regular benefits at her FRA, will those benefits also be reduced because of the early filing for spousal benefits?


The filing strategy you're proposing is not a viable option. No one is permitted to file just for reduced spousal benefits prior to full retirement age (FRA) without also being required to file for their own Social Security retirement benefits at the same time. And . . . Read More

Can You Help Me?

Category: Retirement Benefits
Jan 26 2020 - 5:53pm

I can get society security money because I having work enough so what can I do I been try and they told me I don't have enough pointi can work because I am too old. So can u help me


If you believe that you have sufficient work credits to qualify for Social Security benefits and Social Security is telling you that you don't, you can still insist on filing a claim for benefits. Then, if your claim is disallowed you would have appeal rights (

I . . . Read More

How Can My Wife Optimize Her Benefits?

Category: Filing Strategies
Jan 26 2020 - 11:24am

I plan to start collecting social security this December at age 70 when my benefit will be $2730. My wife has applied to start collecting next month (February) at age 66 with a benefit of $1050. Will her benefit increase to half of mine when I start collecting at 70? Is there an advantage if she delays starting to collect and how can she optimize her benefits? We both have long life expectancy.


If you'll reach age 70 in December 2020 and your benefit rate if you start drawing then would be $2730, that means your primary . . . Read More

When Will MY Benefits Start?

Category: Filing Options
Jan 25 2020 - 11:55am

I turned 62 in August of 2019. I just applied for early retirement in January 2020. I was told by a friend that they would go back to August and start my benefits but January of 2020 was my option to start. Can you please clarify for me?


You aren't allowed to claim reduced Social Security benefits for any months prior to your month of filing, so if you filed your application in January 2020 it would be impossible for Social Security to start your benefits retroactive to August 2019. And, if you chose January 2020 as your month of election to . . . Read More

Would My Relative Receive A Lower Widow's Rate Because She Started Drawing Her Benefits At Age 62?

Category: Widow(er) Benefits
Jan 25 2020 - 11:45am

Hi Larry: My relative is currently age 86 and his wife is age 84. He started collecting Social Security at age 65, and receives a current monthly benefit amount of $2,481.90, and she filed early, at age 62, for her Social Security benefit; her current benefit amount is $996.90.

Our question relates to the spousal benefit that his wife will receive if my relative passes away before his wife does. Basically, will his wife receive a net monthly benefit amount that is LOWER than my relative's total monthly amount because his wife claimed her benefit early, or will it be the . . . Read More

Will My Fiancée's Benefits Be Impacted By My Income If We Get Married?

Category: Miscellaneous
Jan 24 2020 - 9:23am

We can't find any clear information regarding younger spouses and social security retirement benefits! Everything is focused on spousal benefits and if the SS retired spouse dies and when to seek SS if the spouse is only a few years younger.

In our case, I am MUCH younger than my fiance. We want to get married but are afraid that his SS benefits will be impacted by my income. I am 43 and he is 66. He claimed his SS retirement benefits at 65 and we want to get married this year. He receives $800 a month...will his benefits be impacted by my income if we get married. Also . . . Read More

Can I Still Further Appeal To Get Spousal Benefits?

Category: Spousal Benefits
Jan 23 2020 - 11:57am

Hi Larry, I am a non-US citizen nor have a green card. But my wife of 45 years is a U.S. citizen. We both live together in the US and my wife is 68 years old already and receives her social security pension. My wife never petitioned me and will NOT petition me as I made a serious mistakes to her in the past. She said she can forgive but cannot forget. Our children who are all US citizens would not petition me neither in obedience to their mother. I have an SSS card, but with a note "not valid for employment." But I was able to work for about 6 years and contributed SSS premium . . . Read More

What Can I Do To Get My Medicare Premium Refund?

Category: Medicare
Jan 23 2020 - 11:51am

i canceled medicare part b and now the owe me a refund and i got letter in aug 2019 saying id get a excess premium refund soon still haven't got it why doe sit take them so long, and when should i get it. social security say all they can do is send messages to payment center there's been 60 message's sent all they tell me working on it.


I wish I had a trick up my sleeve that would help you get your refund sooner, but I don't. It sounds like you've done about all that you can do, which is to continue following up with Social Security. You might . . . Read More

Will I Receive My Spousal Benefits After My Husband Starts Getting His Benefits?

Category: Payment Dates
Jan 23 2020 - 11:42am

My husband and I, both 66, applied for social security benefits the end of November 2019. My husband applied for full social security benefits and I applied for spousal benefits. We both were born in 1953 so took advantage of the restricted application. My husband's benefits will begin next month in February but my spousal application is still pending. Will I receive my spousal benefits a month or two after my husband starts receiving his benefits? I thought they'd begin at the same time. Your software program was very helpful. Thank you.


I answer . . . Read More