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 11 - 20 of 3076 questions.

Should I Cancel My Social Security If I Intend To Start Working Full-Time?

Category: Earnings Test
Nov 20 2017 - 7:40am

Larry, I took my Social Security when I turned 62 and now I am 65 and in Oct. of 2018 I will be 66. My question is I have been offered a full-time position at my job and I was wondering since I am on 65, should I cancel it (Social Security) before January 2018 so I can be off Social Security so I can make wages for 40 hours or more at my job? Please help me cause I am confused and don't want to pay 2 dollars for every 1 dollar over the amount I can make.

Thanks. Charles

Hi Charles,

If you are going to start a job that will cause you to earn . . . Read More

Should My Wife File At Age 62 If She Expects To Receive A Survivor Pension From My Work?

Category: Non-Covered Pension - WEP / GPO
Nov 20 2017 - 7:22am

I will be receiving a govt. pension from being a teacher in CA. I will be receiving only a small Social Security benefit (due to only 12 credited years and WPA and GPO). My wife is ten years younger and will collect a substantial portion of my pension when I'm gone - which will be much greater than her SS benefits (also affected by WPA and GPO when she gets my pension). My question is, should she collect her SS benefits at 62 so she can maximize the number of years that she will get a benefit until she collects my pension, which will reduce her SS benefits to a small amount ( . . . Read More

Do You Know Of Anyone Who Can Help Us?

Category: Miscellaneous
Nov 20 2017 - 7:13am

Hi, I want to get someone to help me make sure I get the spousal benefit when I turn 66. You've explained it well, but I'm not good at these things and don't want to blow it. This doesn't happen for a few months, but I wondered if you know of anyone who can help us navigate this so we don't make a mistake and miss out on this valuable benefit. Thank you!


The maximization software on this website can tell you which type of benefit to file for as well as the exact month that you should start drawing the benefit. We also offer an expert review and . . . Read More

Can I File For Spousal Benefits Now And Then Switch To My Own Record At Age 66?

Category: Filing Options
Nov 20 2017 - 7:04am

I will be 65 in Jan2018, and will wait until I am 66 to collect 100% ssi. My wife is currently 66 and has been on disability ssi, until she turned 66 in Aug.2017. My question ,am I able to collect 50% of her amount until I turn 66 in Jan2019? The other question is can my wife file for 50% of the amount I am entitled now or does she have to wait until I start collecting. The spousal benefit of 50% for her is significantly higher then she is currently collecting. Are either of these options available for us? My birthdate is 1/10/53 her birthdate is 8/18/51

Hi . . . Read More

Is My Wife Entitled To Half Of My Benefit Amount?

Category: Spousal Benefits
Nov 20 2017 - 6:53am

I filed at full retirement age 66 yrs old, my wife filed at age 62 we are both over 70 is my wife entitled to half spousal benefits? Both retired!


Not exactly. Spousal benefit rates are computed starting with 50% of the worker's full retirement age rate (PIA), and then subtracting the spouse's own PIA. Then, each benefit can be separately reduced for age depending on when the spouse started drawing the benefit.

For example, Jane's full retirement age rate (PIA) is $800, but she starts drawing at age 62 and receives a reduced rate of $600 . . . Read More

How Is My Medicare Number Determined?

Category: Medicare
Nov 19 2017 - 7:16am

My husband died at age 62 from service-connected disabilities. He received SSA disability benefits for only 6 months starting at age 61. At age 60, I applied for SSA widow's benefits. Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provisions have offset the entire SSA amount so my widow's application was suspended. I've decided to wait until age 70 to apply for my own SSA entitlement. I am now age 64 and just today I received my first Medicare card. It has my husband's SSN-D number on it. Does this mean that my entitlement for Medicare will be established on my husband's . . . Read More

Is It True That I'll Get My Age 68 Rate If I Start Drawing 6 Months Before Then?

Category: Delayed Retirement Credits
Nov 19 2017 - 6:54am

Hi Larry,

Hope your weekend is going well.

On July 15, 2017 I turned 67 years old. In Dec 2017, I will be close to 67.5 yrs old. It means that I will be only six-months shy of my 68th birthday. I was told that within six month of my 68th B'day, I will be entitled to get full benefits equivalent to my 68 yrs age. What I mean that I don't have to wait until July 15, 2018, instead I can get start claiming the same amount equal to my 68th birthday when I claim in Dec 2017 or Jan 2018. Please advise.


What you've heard is not correct. . . . Read More

Can I Get Spousal Benefits While My Own Benefits Are In Suspense?

Category: Spousal Benefits
Nov 19 2017 - 6:27am

Hello Larry and Associates -

My wife turned 64 this month and is considering filing for her SS benefits early. Her FRA benefit is $819. I turned 67 in April of this year and, last April before the deadline, I filed and suspended my SS benefits. I intend to wait until age 70 to restart them. My FRA benefit is $2190. SSA has told her that she could receive $959/month beginning in December of this year. These benefits are based on her work record but also include spousal benefits from my work record. I have two questions.

First, if she files for SS benefits now, . . . Read More

Has Social Security Announced The 'Substantial Earnings' Amount For 2018?

Category: Disability Benefits
Nov 18 2017 - 11:33am

Has Social Security Announced The 'Substantial Earnings' Amount For 2018


Yes, assuming that you're referring to the substantial gainful activity (SGA) guideline for disability benefits. For non-blind individuals the 2018 amount is $1180, and for blind individuals next year's guideline is $1970 (

Best, Jerry

How Will My Wife's Spousal Benefit Be Computed?

Category: Spousal Benefits
Nov 18 2017 - 7:38am

I have one question about spousal benefit. If I choose early withdrawal of age 62, will my spouse who does not have her own contribution, at her age of full retirement will get 50% of my full benefit or only 50% of reduced benefit as I started withdrawing at age 62? My plan is for her not to take spousal benefit at 62 but her full retirement age.

Please clarify and eventually when I start taking benefit I will join your maximize subscription.


Hi Venkatraman,

If your spouse waits until full . . . Read More