This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

Social Security Offers Lump Sums? Yes, But Beware





If you wait until after your full retirement age to claim your Social Security retirement benefits, there is a little-known rule that could entitle you to a large chunk of cash all at once. This provision enables retirees who meet this requirement to receive up to six months of retroactive benefits in one lump sum.

Sound appealing? While this option may be a great choice for some, there are several things to consider before you go for it -- namely its impact on your future benefits.

How Social Security's lump sum option works

The rule is a bit complicated, but Kia Anderson, a spokesperson for Social Security Administration, illustrates a possible scenario: Say a retiree reached full retirement age in November 2012, but then waited to file an application for Social Security benefits until November 2013. In this example, the retiree might be entitled to retroactive benefits -- paid in a lump sum -- beginning from May 2013, or six months before he or she finally filed for benefits.

Because of the six-month limitation on this rule, the first six months of benefits would effectively be gone for a retiree in this situation. But for those who need a large chunk of cash for an emergency or for those who are in bad health and don't expect to live long, the six months of benefits that are still available may be much appreciated.

Still, there is a major drawback to claiming retroactive benefits in a lump sum: It will reduce your ongoing monthly Social Security benefits for the rest of your life. That means that retirees should examine their circumstances before choosing this option, says Anderson.

"It depends on a person's individual situation as to whether they would like to file for retroactive retirement benefits," she says.

Making the call

Russ Settle, founding partner with Social Security Choices in Elkton, Md., says that it makes sense to claim the retroactive payment if you've received bad news about your health or if you face a financial crisis that requires an immediate infusion of cash. But in most other situations, it's a bad move because claiming the retroactive benefits locks you into an earlier "official" retirement date, even if you waited until after your full retirement age to claim your benefits.

1 of 3

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

Jim Cramer's protégé, David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
Try it NOW

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Dividend Stock Advisor

Jim Cramer's protégé, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Options Profits

Our options trading pros provide over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • Actionable options commentary and news
  • Real-time trading community
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!

Markets

DOW 17,416.85 +225.48 1.31%
S&P 500 2,021.25 +19.09 0.95%
NASDAQ 4,683.4070 +45.4130 0.98%

Partners Compare Online Brokers

Free Reports

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs