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Can I Have a Do Over!?

Sometimes hindsight really is 20/20 and other times we made big decisions because of the year 2020. For many people, the induced recession created a change in their finances, their income, or even their employment. Over the course of the last year I talked with a number of people who transitioned out of their career for one reason or another and consequently, many filed for Social Security sooner than they had once anticipated. Months later, I am now receiving messages from people who are sharing the good news that they are going back to work! For some, they are realizing they no longer need their Social Security benefits to provide their income and wish they had waited to file. Their question to me is, “can I get a do over?”

While on the golf course we can often drop a new ball and announce (or not) that you’re taking a ‘mulligan’ Social Security isn’t quite that easy. If you’re regretting having filed for Social Security benefits, know what options are available to you.

  1. If you filed for Social Security retirement benefits within the last 12 months, you can withdraw your application. What does this mean
    • You can effectively stop receiving your Social Security benefits within 12 months from beginning them however, you must pay back the benefit amount you have received within that time period.
    • What if my spouse is receiving spousal benefits?
      • If your spouse receives spousal benefits, the amount of the difference between their own benefit and the spousal benefit will also have to be paid back to SSA
    • You may only do this once in your lifetime
    • Why would you do this? One example of a time this strategy may apply is if you go back to work and would rather wait to receive your Social Security benefit at a later age with a higher benefit amount available to you. If you are under your full retirement age and receiving Social Security benefits and wages at the same time, you could be impacted by the earnings limit ($1 withheld for every $2 made over $19,640 or $1 withheld for every $3 made over $50,520 in the year you reach full retirement age).
  2. You can suspend your Social Security benefits. What does this mean?
    • If you are between your full retirement age and age 70, you have the option to suspend your Social Security payments. What does this mean? Suspending your payments allows you to earn delayed retirement credits that increase your monthly payments by 8% each year. You can restart your Social Security payments at any time and they will automatically resume at age 70 at a higher rate, if you don’t elect to do so before then.
    • Why would you do this? A change in financial and/or health status may change your outlook on how your Social Security benefits may impact yourself or your spouse based on longevity or investment assets available to your use.


Knowing how and when to file for Social Security is one of the most important decisions retirees will ever make. If you’re not sure you made the right decision or you wish you could have a do-over, there may be options available.

Do you wonder if you should have made a different decision with your benefits? Please contact me if you have questions so we can review the benefit strategies available to you!