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What Happens if I Start Collecting Social Security, But Then I Change My Mind?

What Happens if I Start Collecting Social Security, But Then I Change My Mind?

March 21, 2022

As you know, waiting longer (up until age 70) to collect your Social Security benefits can net you a larger monthly check. But at some point, you might feel that you’re ready to - or need to - claim your benefits. What if that decision turns out to feel like a mistake, and you regret it? Can you change your mind and delay your benefits until later?

Yes, you can withdraw your Social Security claim, but only under certain conditions:

  • It has been less than a year since you originally filed for benefits
  • You repay every dollar that you received from Social Security in the meantime
  • You repay any money withheld from your benefits checks, such as to pay Medicare premiums
  • You repay any Social Security benefits received by your dependents during this time (spousal benefits or benefits for children) and they consent to the withdrawal of benefits in writing

That might be a pretty tall order, but occasionally it is the right decision. If you’ve claimed your Social Security benefits and then decide it is a mistake for any reason, file Form SSA-521 within one year and repay all money received. Your benefits will be suspended until later and will continue to grow.

Now, what if that one-year window has closed? You have a second option once you reach your full retirement age. You can request a suspension of benefits, and payments will stop until you ask for them to be restarted. If you don’t file this request by age 70, Social Security will automatically resume your payments at that time. Yes, you will accrue delayed retirement credits during this time, which means your checks will be a bit larger when they start again.

Of course, in most cases it is best to time your Social Security claim correctly, so that you don’t have to go to the extra trouble of canceling your claim or suspending payments. Remember to meet with us before making any big decisions about your retirement income, including Social Security, so that we can help you run the numbers and make the appropriate decisions the first time.