It is possible for a person to ask for their social security retirement benefits to be suspended until they are age 70. This allows for the person to receive a higher benefit amount when they reach age 70, than if they elect to receive retirement benefits at their full retirement age (usually age 66 or 67 depending on when the person was born).
If the person and his or her spouse are both full retirement age, one of them can apply for retirement benefits now and have the payments suspended.
The other spouse can apply for spouse’s benefits only. This allows both spouses to receive delayed retirement benefits on their own records.
If this strategy is used, only one of the spouses can apply for retirement benefits and have the payments suspended.
However, a couple of things are important to know before suspending one’s retirement benefits. The first is that is the person is enrolled in Medicare Part B (Supplementary Medical Insurance), they will be billed for future Part B premiums by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The premiums cannot be deducted from suspended retirement benefits. Failure to pay the premiums can result in the person losing their Part B Medicare coverage. There is an exception to this. If a person receives benefits as a spouse or ex-spouse, the premium can be deducted from those benefits.
The other thing to bear in mind is that if the person is also receiving Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI), suspending their retirement benefits will make them ineligible for SSI.
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If a person is applying for Social Security Disability Income benefits (SSDI) and has reached the age of 62, they can also apply for early retirement benefits. This may be a helpful stopgap source of income while the person is awaiting a decision on their SSDI claim.
If the person is later found disabled, they will still receive their full retirement benefit upon reaching full retirement age. This is because of the “disability freeze”, which allows exclusions of zero-income or low-income quarters from retirement benefits calculations for persons who are disabled. See my post from April 1, 2014 (no, it was not an april fool’s joke, and I somewhat regret posting anything on that day, but well, there you go).
Some of social security’s rules can be confusing and difficult to navigate, and it is always helpful to hire an experienced attorney whenever one is applying for SSDI.
This material should not be construed as legal advice for any particular fact situation, but is intended for general informational purposes only. For advice specific to any individual situation, an experienced attorney should be contacted.