Sould I Reapply To Get A Higher Rate?

Category: 
Jul 6 2017 - 7:16am

You gave an answer below which I can't completely grasp. Here is what you said "Larry Kotlikoff: You can’t suspend your benefit until you reach full retirement age. And you can’t repay all the benefits you received and reapply if you have been receiving benefits for a year or more. But don’t worry. When you reach full retirement age, Social Security will raise your retirement benefit (actually, undo the early retirement benefit reduction) to make up for any benefits you and your family members lose on your own earnings record via the earnings test between now and when you reach full retirement age."

So, here is my situation. I retired at 62, one month later, got an unexpected job I thought would last a couple of months at the most, but has turned out to be over 5 years. I have been paying taxes, but your quoted statement suggests that I should go back to SS and reapply because I'm of retirement age 67, and maybe I could draw more benefits? It almost sounds like I can go back and be entitled to additional monthly dollars. Do I understand that correctly? If that is so, what reference information would I need to give the SS people so they would know what I am talking about. Thanks, Jim

Hi Jim,

You don't need to reapply in order to receive a higher benefit rate if you are eligible for it. Social Security should automatically recalculate your benefit rate to a) give you credit for any months that you lost benefits to the earnings test prior to full retirement age (FRA), and b) increase your rate for higher earnings years since you applied.

To explain Larry's answer, if you filed for your Social Security benefits at age 62, your FRA rate would have been reduced by about 25% for taking benefits early. That percentage reduction was based on the assumption that you would receive benefits for 4 years prior to FRA. But, if you returned to work and some of your benefits had to be withheld due to the Social Security earnings test (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking2.html), Social Security would recalculate your benefit rate after you reach FRA to lessen the percentage reduction. For example, if you only received 12 months of benefits prior to FRA instead of 48 months, the applicable percentage reduction would only be 6.67% instead of 25%.

It sometimes takes Social Security up to 18 months after a person's FRA to process the adjustment described above, so you may be due an increase in your rate that hasn't yet been processed. You may want to check with Social Security to see if this applies in your case. And, if you earned more in any of the years since you filed for benefits than you did in the previous 35 highest years used to compute your initial benefit rate, you may also want to check to see if you are due an increase due to your higher earnings (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10070.pdf).

Best, Jerry