Dear Rusty: I just recently turned 62 and have not yet filed for Social Security, but I’m wondering – Is it possible to start my Social Security benefits at age 62, take benefits for about six months just to get some extra money in, and then stop benefits and restart them again at my full retirement age of 66? If it is possible would it affect the amount at 66, which at present would be about $1400 per month? Signed: Wondering
Dear Wondering: Well, the simple answer to your first question is yes but, since your goal is to get some money in, the details of the answer will probably make you not want to do that. Here’s why: Social Security does allow a “do over” option, granting anyone who applies for and starts receiving their benefits the option to change their mind within one year, withdraw their application and delay re-applying until a later date when their benefit amount would be larger. But here’s the catch – upon withdrawing your application you would be required to repay Social Security all of the benefits that they had paid you between when you first applied and when you withdrew. Not only that, any benefits someone else, such as a spouse or dependents, received on your application would have to be repaid also. Said another way, if you start and later withdraw your application, you will need to wipe the slate clean with Social Security and repay any monies paid out on your behalf, including benefits, withheld taxes and Medicare premiums. So if your goal is to get some money in for the short term, then I don’t believe that the “do over” option is one that will help you achieve it since you’ll have to pay them back everything they paid out. As to your second question, if for some reason you did exercise the do-over option and pay them everything back, it wouldn’t affect your benefit at age 66 – you would still get 100 percent of what you are entitled to at your full retirement age.
The information presented in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The opinions and interpretations expressed in this article are the viewpoints of the Association of Mature American Citizens, AMAC, Foundation’s Social Security Advisory staff. The Foundation welcomes questions from readers regarding Social Security issues. To submit a request, contact the Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.