If I Start Drawing Benefits And Return To Work, Would It Benefit Me To Stop Receiving Payments?

Dec 12 2018 - 3:18pm

I turned 65 on 12/3 this year. Presently unemployed. Full retirement age is 66. If I start receiving social security in February and would go back to work in May, would it benefit to stop receiving benefits in June and restart after I stop work? Can I repay what was paid to me and receive a higher benefit when I reapply for benefits?

Hi,

There are too many variables involved to be able to give you a definitive answer to your question as to whether or not it would benefit you to stop receiving benefits In June 2019 if you go back to work. In any case, though, that's not something that you could voluntarily opt to do. Once you start drawing reduced Social Security benefits prior to your full retirement age (FRA), you can't voluntarily stop receiving them until you reach FRA. Your benefits could be involuntarily suspended before you reach FRA, however, if you return to work and earn more than what's allowed under Social Security's earnings test (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking.html).

If you start receiving benefits next year and you earn more than $46,920 in the first 11 months of 2019, Social Security would need to withhold $1 of your benefits for each $3 that you earn in excess of that amount. There wouldn't be any limit on the amount you could earn starting with December 2019 when you reach FRA, but you could voluntarily suspend your benefits at that point in order to accrue delayed retirement credits (DRC). You wouldn't be allowed to voluntarily suspend your benefits prior to December 2019, though.

If you file for benefits and then change your mind, you can withdraw your claim if you request withdrawal within 12 months of the month that you started drawing benefits (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/withdrawal.html). However, you would then have to repay any benefits that you had already been paid. Withdrawing your application would be like wiping the slate clean, and you could then reapply for benefits at a later date of your choosing.

Before deciding what to do, you should strongly consider using our software to fully explore and compare all of your various options so that you can choose the best possible strategy for claiming your benefits.

Best, Jerry