One nice thing about Social Security is that you get a choice of when to file for benefits. You’re not locked into one specific age.
The earliest age you can claim benefits is age 62. But you won’t be entitled to your full monthly benefit based on your earnings history until you reach full retirement age (FRA). And FRA doesn’t kick in until 66, 67, or somewhere in the middle, depending on your year of birth.
For each year you sign up for benefits ahead of FRA, they get reduced on what could be a permanent basis. And if you file at the earliest possible age of 62, you’ll be looking at a hit of 25% to 30% on your Social Security income, depending on your FRA.
But here’s some good news — if you’ve already claimed benefits early and now regret that decision, you’re not necessarily out of luck. That’s because Social Security gives you one do-over in your lifetime where you can withdraw your benefits application, pay back the money you received, and file again at a later age. And if these situations apply to you, then undoing your filing could make a lot of sense.
1. You’ve gone back to work
You may have decided to retire early and claim Social Security to cover your expenses in the absence of a job. But if you’ve since decided to return to work, then you may not need those benefits any longer.
Furthermore, when you collect Social Security ahead of FRA and work at the same time, you risk having some of those benefits withheld, depending on much money you make. So that’s another reason to consider undoing your filing.
2. Your expenses are coming in higher than expected
Some people go into retirement expecting to spend a lot less than they did during their working years, only to quickly realize that their initial estimates are way off. If it’s costing you a lot more money to exist as a retiree than you initially anticipated, then you may want to undo your Social Security filing and sign up at a later age to snag a more generous monthly benefit.
3. You’re more bored in retirement than anticipated
Many people look forward to retirement only to end up bored out of their minds once their careers wrap up. If that’s a boat you’ve landed in, then you may want to undo your filing and resume your career.
Act quickly if you want a do-over
The fact that you can undo your Social Security filing once in your lifetime is a positive thing, as it gives you more flexibility. But one thing you should know is that you only have one year from your initial filing date to withdraw your benefits application and repay the money Social Security paid you.
If you’re thinking about undoing your filing, pay attention to that deadline to ensure that you don’t miss it. Otherwise, you could end up getting stuck with a monthly benefit you’re not happy with for the rest of your life.
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