Ask Larry

Can I Suspend My Benefits Until Age 70 But Then Claim Back Pay For A Previous Year?

I have just reached full retirement age. I am a REALTOR and do not know if I will be earning much income this year if the markets continues to slow down. I was going to wait until at least 68 to start benefits, but am now thinking about starting and then possible suspending if I am still earning. Question: If I suspend until 70, but decide I need the SS income from a previous year, will they pay for a back year or more? And, if so, how will that payment effect by the increases I have earned by suspending.

thank you!

Hi. No. Once you apply for and voluntarily suspend your benefits, the earliest that you can reinstate them is effective with the month after the month that you notify Social Security that you wish to resume payments. You can't reinstate suspended benefits retroactively.

What you can do instead, though, is simply delay applying for benefits rather than claiming your benefits and then suspending them. If you haven't previously applied for benefits and if you're over full retirement age (FRA), you can file an application and claim benefits retroactively for up to 6 months prior to the month of your application.

However, if you do claim retroactive benefits you would lose the delayed retirement credits (DRC) that you otherwise would have earned for those months. DRCs increase your benefit rate by 2/3rds of 1% per month, so claiming 6 months of back benefits would result in a monthly benefit rate that's permanently 4% lower than the rate you'd receive if you instead chose not to be paid for those months.

It sounds like you may want to strongly consider using our software ( to fully compare and analyze all of your options so that you can determine your best strategy for maximizing your benefits.

Best, Jerry

Jan 5 2023 - 3:26pm
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