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 11 - 20 of 6392 questions.

Would My Payment Amount Be Higher If I Was Still Living In New York?

Category: Miscellaneous
Jun 1 2020 - 1:07pm

Hi Larry, I wanted to know do the amount of your social security payment varies on which state you Live. Ex I worked in Newyork all my life and moved to Ga . I filled for Social security as a Ga resident. Would my payment have been higher if I was still living in NY.?


Absolutely not. Social Security is a federal program and your state of residence is totally irrelevant in determining the amount of your benefit rate. Nor does it matter in which state(s) you worked, nor where you file your application.

Best, Jerry

When Should My Wife Submit An Application?

Category: Filing For Benefits
Jun 1 2020 - 12:57pm

My wife turns 70 on October 30. She has been collecting spousal based on my benefits (I’m 72). When should she submit an application to collect based on her own earnings? Thanks.


Assuming that your wife's own Social Security retirement benefit rate is higher than her spousal rate and if she wants to claim her benefits at age 70, she'll want to claim her benefits effective with October. Social Security allows you to apply up to 4 months in advance, so your wife could file her application as early as June. She doesn't need to file that soon, . . . Read More

How Can I Apply For Low Income Housing?

Category: Public Assistance Payments
Jun 1 2020 - 8:18am

How can i apply for low income housing? Im on ssi.


My expertise is limited to Social Security benefits, and I'm not familiar with the rules regarding low income housing. You might be able to find information on Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) website:

Best, Jerry

How Do I Fix This?

Category: Taxation Of Benefits
Jun 1 2020 - 8:05am

Hello Larry,
I am having difficulty getting straight answers to how taxes work on my LTD and SS disability.
I went on LTD end of December 2018, the insurance required me to apply for SS Disability and pay back to them what I receive. Social Security tax was withheld for 2019 and I got a W2 form. In March I received the first year's SS Disability and the insurance took it from my account. The LTD insurance was company paid by grossing up my income and them paying for it with after tax money I thought this would make my LTD tax free but the company HR says it should . . . Read More

Can I Draw On My Husband's SS?

Category: Spousal Benefits
Jun 1 2020 - 7:53am

I am 62 and I'm on disability my husband is 58 also on disability. My ? Is can I draw on his SS till he is old enough to get SS ?


When you say that you and your husband are on disability I assume you mean that you're both drawing Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits. In that case you may be able to claim spousal benefits, but you could only potentially qualify for additional spousal benefits if your husband's primary insurance amount (PIA), which is equal to his full SSDI benefit rate, is more than twice as much as your PIA. If you do . . . Read More

Will My Personal SS Benefits Continue To Grow Until Age 70 If I'm Receiving Widow's Benefits?

Category: Retirement Benefits
Jun 1 2020 - 7:45am

I am currently 66yo. I retired at 61yo. I started collecting widows benefits at 62yo. Will my personal SS benefits continue to grow until I turn 70yo, and should I go to SSA and see if my personal SS benefits are greater than what I am currently receiving?


Yes, your own Social Security retirement benefit rate would continue to grow until you reach age 70 as a result of delayed retirement credits (DRC). The fact that you're drawing survivor benefits has no adverse effect on your own benefit rate.

And, yes, when you're nearing age 70 it . . . Read More

If I Return To Work Will The Money I Pay Into SS Increase My Benefit Amount?

Category: Disability Benefits
May 31 2020 - 5:28pm

I'm collecting SSD benefits right now and I am thinking of going back to work will the money I pay in to SS in payroll increase my benefit amount over the years of working


It's possible that returning to work and paying into Social Security could increase your benefit rate, but only if your new yearly earnings are higher than the amount of your earnings in one or more of the years currently being used to calculate your benefit rate.

Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits are based on an average of a variable number of the disabled . . . Read More

Will My Benefit Amount Change When I Reach Full Retirement Age?

Category: Disability Benefits
May 31 2020 - 5:18pm

I'm collecting SSD benefits right now and in January I turn 66 Witch is my full retirement age will my benefit amount change


No, your benefit rate won't change as a result of the conversion from Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits to regular Social Security retirement benefits that occurs when you reach full retirement age (FRA). By the way, if you were born in 1955 and on any day other than January 1st, your FRA is actually 66 & 2 months rather than 66 ( . . . Read More

What Is The Best Strategy For My Wife And I To Maximize Our Social Security Benefits?

Category: Filing Strategies
May 31 2020 - 11:52am

I just turned 69 and my wife just turned 68. Neither of us have filed for any Social Security Benefits. Both born before 1953. I have a larger PIA than my wife. What is the best strategy for us to maximize our Social Security Benefits?


The answer to your question depends largely on the comparative rates of your primary insurance amounts (PIA). If your wife's PIA is relatively close to yours, then it might be best for both of you to wait until age 70 to start drawing. But, if your wife's PIA is less than half as much as yours, it would almost . . . Read More

Will Social Security Include My 2020 Salary In My 35 Years Of Highest Earnings?

Category: Retirement Benefits
May 30 2020 - 12:38pm

I plan on retiring at my FRA in October 2020. I currently am working and will continue to work until October 31, 2020. When I look at my earnings record, it ends in 2019. Will social security include my 2020 salary in the 35-years of highest earnings if I retire in Oct 2020 or should I wait until Jan 2021 to have the 2020 earnings included?
Thank you


Social Security will give you credit for your 2020 earnings when calculating your Social Security retirement benefit rate regardless of what month and year you choose to claim your benefits. . . . Read More