How To Increase Your Social Security Benefit

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Applying for Social Security is thought to be an irreversible action.

But there’s a little known strategy that allows you to reverse your decision, to—in effect—change your mind.

It’s called voluntary suspension.

In essence, it works like this, according to the Social Security Administration: “If you have reached full retirement age, but are not yet age 70, you can ask Social Security to suspend your retirement benefit payments.

And by doing this, the Social Security Administration says you will earn delayed retirement credits for each month your benefits are suspended which will result in a higher benefit payment to you. 

It's one of those unique opportunities to make an adjustment to your retirement-income plan, says David Freitag, a financial planning consultant and Social Security expert for MassMutual.

Now, why might you want to voluntarily suspend your benefit?

To earn those “legendary” delayed retirement credits, says Freitag.

Social Security retirement benefits are increased by a certain percentage for each month you delay starting your benefits beyond full retirement age. For those born in 1943, the 12-month rate of increase is 8% and the monthly rate of increase is 2/3 of 1%. “In today's environment that sounds like a pretty attractive idea,” says Freitag.

According to Freitag, voluntary suspension is another way of adding flexibility to the Social Security claiming process. You’re able to put on hold your benefit for two or three years - all the way up to age 70. “Voluntary suspension is a unique way of correcting a decision made in haste or maybe without good information,” he says.

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