What to Do If You Took Social Security Too Early

If you took Social Security benefits too early and regret your decision, there are a few options available to potentially rectify the situation.

Keep in mind that the strategies available to you may depend on your specific circumstances, age, and the time that has passed since you started receiving benefits.

Here are some steps you can take:

File for a withdrawal of benefits

If you’ve been receiving Social Security benefits for less than 12 months, you may be eligible to withdraw your application for benefits.

The withdrawal process essentially treats it as if you never applied for benefits. However, you must repay all the benefits received, including any spousal or dependent benefits paid based on your work record.

You have a one-time opportunity to do this, so it’s crucial to carefully evaluate your decision.

Suspend benefits (full retirement age or later)

If you have reached your full retirement age (FRA) or are older, you have the option to suspend your benefits.

By doing so, you stop receiving benefits, and your benefit amount will increase due to delayed retirement credits.

Delaying benefits past your FRA can increase your monthly benefit amount by up to 8% per year until age 70.

File for a do-over (limited opportunity)

If you started receiving benefits at your full retirement age or older, you may have a one-time opportunity to “reset” your benefit claim.

This strategy allows you to voluntarily suspend your benefits and restart them at a later date, typically at a higher amount due to delayed retirement credits.

Continue working and suspend benefits

If you started receiving benefits before your full retirement age but are continuing to work, you may consider suspending your benefits while you’re working.

This can allow your benefit amount to increase due to delayed retirement credits. However, keep in mind that if you’re receiving benefits and earning above a certain limit (earnings test), your benefits may be subject to reduction until you reach your FRA.

Plan carefully

It’s essential to make a well-informed decision, as each strategy has its own implications and limitations. Consider consulting with a financial advisor or Social Security representative who can review your specific situation and provide personalized advice based on your needs and goals.

Remember, Social Security is a complex system, and taking benefits at different ages can significantly impact your overall retirement income.

Weigh the pros and cons of each option, and choose the approach that aligns best with your long-term financial plans.