Can I Start Drawing My Benefits Now And Then Suspend Them After FRA?

Aug 14 2017 - 4:46pm

I am 65 and 5 months. My FRA is 66. No one else can get benefits on my account. If I filed right now my benefit would be $1572.00 per month. I am not working right now but I am looking for work. I have debt that I am anxious to pay off . I am living on a $1200. per month pension right now. My concerns are if I file now, pay off my a debt and (being at FRA by then) can I suspend my benefits? If I do that will my future benefit increase by 8% per year? What would be involved if I was able to clear up the debt (about $14K) within one year and withdrew my request as if I never filed? I really appreciate any and all help.

Hi,

Yes, you can start drawing your benefits now and then suspend them when you reach full retirement age (FRA) or thereafter. However, you will keep any reduction that you take for starting your benefits prior to FRA, and you won't receive delayed retirement credits (DRC) for any months that you receive payments after reaching FRA.

For example, say Bill has a full retirement age benefit rate (PIA) of $1600, but he decides to start drawing 6 months prior to FRA and receives a reduced rate of $1546. Then, after drawing benefits for a year, Bill suspends his benefits starting at age 66 & 1/2 and resumes drawing them at age 70. Bill would receive 3 & 1/2 years worth of DRCs, which would increase his benefit rate by 28% (i.e. 2/3rds of 1% x 42 months). The net result is that Bill's monthly benefit rate at age 70 would end up being $1978 (i.e. $1546 x 1.28), instead of the $2112 (i.e. $1600 x 1.32) that he'd have received if he wouldn't have drawn any benefits prior to age 70.

If you withdrew your claim rather than suspending your benefits, there would be no permanent reduction in your rate. You could then reapply for benefits at age 70 and receive your highest possible rate, which would be 32% more than your PIA. However, in order to be allowed to withdraw your claim you would need to do so within a year of your entitlement month, and you would be required to repay all of the benefits that you had received (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/withdrawal.html). So, I don't see how that would ultimately help you in clearing up your debt.

You may want to strongly consider using the maximization software available on this website in order to explore all of your filing options and determine your best strategy.

Best, Jerry