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 5056 questions.

Will My Social Security Benefit Be Reduced If I Receive A FERS Pension?

Category: Non-Covered Pension - WEP / GPO
Apr 18 2019 - 11:13am

I paid into SS and have my 40 quarters and also paid into FERS and am fully vested. Is my SS reduced because of double dipping?


No. Your Social Security benefits wouldn't be reduced due to receipt of a FERS (Federal Employee Retirement System) pension, because earnings covered under FERS are also subject to Social Security taxes. Social Security benefits are only subject to reduction under the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) if a person receives a pension based on their work that was exempt from Social Security taxes.

Best, Jerry

If I Marry Before I Turn Age 66 Will I Lose My SS Benefit?

Category: Miscellaneous
Apr 18 2019 - 11:05am

I am 65 and my fiance is 47. If I marry him before I turn 66 will I lose my SS benefit?


Getting married would have no effect on your own Social Security retirement or disability benefits, nor does a marriage after age 60 affect widow's or surviving divorced spousal benefits. However, if you're receiving divorced spousal benefits on a living ex-spouse's record or disabled adult child's benefits on a parent's record, then a remarriage would terminate your eligibility unless you meet one of the limited exceptions.

Best, Jerry

Is Social Security Correct That We Can't Collect Spousal Benefits?

Category: Filing Strategies
Apr 17 2019 - 12:35pm

My husband and I both were 66 in January 2019. I am retired and started collecting my full Social Security benefit in January. My husband is still employed and wants to continue working until 70 or longer.. He wants to collet his maximum Social Security benefit at 70. We were told that since I started collecting my SS that my husband could get spousal benefits on my SS at 50%. This would not change the amount due to my husband at age 70 on his SS benefit if he gets spousal benefits on my Social security. I am not sure if this is true or you can even catch what I am asking but . . . Read More

Is It Possible To File For And Suspend My Benefits So My Wife Can Draw On Me?

Category: Spousal Benefits
Apr 17 2019 - 10:16am

Dennis: Age 65. DOB 7/21/1953 taxable income is 500k for next 8 years
Spouse is 61. 2/10/58. She worked 15 years as a teacher but has not worked in 20 years.

I am postponing my SSI until age 70 so to maximize my monthly check. Is it possible to file for SSI and suspend so my wife can draw on me?

Hi Dennis,

No. If you file for and suspend your benefits, any spousal benefits that your wife qualifies for from your record would also be suspended ( . . . Read More

What Can I Do About My Overpayment?

Category: Social Security Overpayments
Apr 17 2019 - 10:01am

Hi Larry,
In 2011 at the age of 45 I was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer. I was Stage IIIB. I received SSDI during my two years of Tx. The Tx worked and I found a new job, closer to home at half the pay. I am partially paralyzed from a Motorcycle accident 2 years before the cancer diagnosis. I enrolled in SSA's program, "Ticket to Work" before the job so they tracked all my earnings and pay stubs. My employer was reporting to SSA and I filed my taxes, as usual. Two years later I received a DEMAND for a $17, 500 overpayment. I was completely surprised as I . . . Read More

Can My Husband Change To A Spousal Benefit If I File And Suspend?

Category: Filing Strategies
Apr 17 2019 - 9:44am

My husband began taking SS at age 62 in 2005 for $1562 per month. I will be 67 in May 2019 and am a high wage earner so my benefit would be $3202 at age 67 I beleive. Can he change his benefit to a spousal draw if I file and suspend so I don't draw until age 70?


No, your husband couldn't be paid spousal benefits while your benefits are voluntarily suspended ( However, it doesn't sound as though your husband will qualify for . . . Read More

Is It Possible To Apply For Spousal Benefits And Delay Taking My Benefits Until Age 70?

Category: Filing Options
Apr 17 2019 - 8:43am

My husband started drawing his SS at age 62 back in 2005. I will turn 67 in May 2019 and have been a high wage earner. Is it possible to apply for spousal benefits on his reduced SS at my FRA and delay taking my benefit until age 70?


Yes, you can and probably should file for spousal benefits as soon as possible. It sounds like you could have been drawing the spousal benefits since the month you reached your full retirement age (FRA) of 66, but now you can only claim those benefits retroactively for a maximum of 6 months. As long as you file only . . . Read More

Could My Husband Withdraw His Application And File For Spousal Benefits Instead?

Category: Filing Options
Apr 16 2019 - 10:02am

My husband filed for his benefits 2/2019 at age 66.4. I have not filed yet, I am 62.9. Can I file now and then he withdraws his application, pays back what they gave him and then he reapplies with a restricted application and then assumes his own benefits at age 70?? I cant seem to find the answer to this question. It did not come up when I purchased your program as an option. You only show him suspending his benefits...not withdrawing and starting over. Thank you so much for answering this, Lynn

Hi Lynn,

Yes, since your husband has been drawing his . . . Read More

What Will Change When I Turn Age 62?

Category: Disability Benefits
Apr 16 2019 - 9:50am

I have been receiving ssi and disability for about 6 years. I will be 62 this year. What will change when I turn 62?


If you're already receiving both Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), nothing will change simply because you're turning age 62. When you reach your full retirement age (FRA) your SSDI will convert to regular Social Security retirement benefits, but both your Social Security and SSI benefit rates will likely remain unchanged.

Best, Jerry

Should I Stop My Payments And Start Drawing At Age 66 1/2?

Category: Filing Options
Apr 15 2019 - 8:44pm

I will draw my first SSI check April 24 at 62. Around 845 monthly.
Housewife mostly my life with about 15 years of actual working.
This amount is based with my 70 year old husbands SSI, who retired at 66.
Today I interviewed for a job, my question is should I stop my payments an work on bringing up my credits, cause if I had drawn only on mine I'd only got 350 a month.
Then start drawing at 66 1/2
Or take the reduced amount of ssi and work also.
Paycheck would be around 400 a week , before taxes.
Need the money an worry because husband . . . Read More