Is My Husband Permitted To Suspend His Benefits At Age 66?

Mar 14 2019 - 7:51am

In reading your book, Get What's Yours (Social Security revised ) I am confused about suspension of benefits at Full Retirement Age for those who have been on disability benefits. I am referring to page 54 "When disabled workers reach FRA, their disability benefit turns into their full retirement benefit. They can suspend their retirement benefit, but they can't withdraw it." And on page209 regarding sentences in the POMS "to prevent the disabled from exercising the file-and-suspend strategy," I am sure I am missing something here and would like clarification in our situation. My husband's birthday is Dec 25, 1953. He has been receiving Social Security disability benefits for more than 10 years. He is turning 66 this December. If possible, we would consider suspending his benefits at age 66 until he is 70. What is your opinion on whether this is permitted and if so, how do we accomplish that? Thanks for your response!

Hi,

Your husband can suspend his benefits once they convert to retirement benefits at his full retirement age (FRA), but what he couldn't do is draw spousal benefits while his own benefits are suspended. Since your husband was born prior to January 2 1954, he could potentially have filed a restricted application for spousal benefits only on your record at FRA if he wasn't already drawing disability benefits. That might have allowed him to draw up to 4 years of spousal benefits while letting his own benefit rate grow until age 70, provided that you were drawing Social Security retirement or disability benefits. But, drawing spousal benefits while letting their own benefit rate grow is not an option for people whose disability benefits convert to retirement benefits at FRA.

If your husband does suspend his benefits at FRA and doesn't reinstate them until age 70, his benefit rate will grow by 32% and that higher rate could potentially carry over to your widow's benefit rate if he dies before you. In order to voluntarily suspend his benefits, your husband needs to contact Social Security no later than the month prior to the month he wants the suspension to start. The earliest month that your husband can suspend his benefits is December 2019 (i.e. the month in which he reaches FRA), so he'll need to contact Social Security no later than November 2019 if he wants suspend his benefits as soon as possible. The request can be made orally or in writing, but I would recommend doing it in writing. The form that Social Security normally uses for that purpose is an SSA-795 (https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-795.pdf).

Before deciding what to do, you and your husband may want to consider using our software to explore and compare your options so that you can choose the best possible strategy.

Best, Jerry