Dear Rusty: Is it still possible to suspend Social Security benefits for a time? And, if so, how often? Signed: Curious Senior
Dear Curious Senior: If you have already reached your full retirement age and are receiving Social Security benefits which you claimed earlier, you can voluntarily suspend your benefits to earn Delayed Retirement Credits (DRCs) and get a higher benefit amount when your payments are resumed. While your benefit payments are suspended, you will earn an additional .67% for each full month of suspension (8% per full year of suspension). If you wish to do so, you can suspend until you are 70 years old, after which you will no longer receive Delayed Retirement Credits, and your benefit will have reached maximum.
At age 70, Social Security will automatically restart your benefit at the higher amount, as appropriate for the number of DRCs you earned while suspended. If you prefer or need the money sooner, you can request that your benefit be restarted earlier than age 70.
You can voluntarily suspend and restart benefits more than once if that is necessary, but the process requires some lead time to stop/restart benefits and there are other important factors to consider. If you suspend your personal SS retirement benefit now to gain a higher payment amount later, while you are suspended no other benefits based on your record (such as a spousal or other dependent benefits) will be paid. And, if you currently have your Medicare premium deducted from your Social Security benefit, suspending your SS benefits will require you to make alternate arrangements for direct payment of your Medicare premium(s). You would need to pay your Medicare premium via mail or by direct withdrawal from your bank account, or by charging a credit/debit card. If you decide to suspend your Social Security payments, you will need to contact Social Security directly at 1.800.772.1213 (or call your local SS office) to do so. When requesting your benefit suspension, you can also make arrangements through Social Security to pay your Medicare premium separately.
This article is intended for information purposes only and does not represent legal or financial guidance. It presents the opinions and interpretations of the AMAC Foundation’s staff, trained and accredited by the National Social Security Association (NSSA). NSSA and the AMAC Foundation and its staff are not affiliated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other governmental entity. To submit a question, visit our website (amacfoundation.org/programs/social-security-advisory) or email us at [email protected].