Martha Shedden RSSA President & Co-Founder
If you have filed for Social Security benefits and regret your decision, you may have a chance to fix it. This is known as withdrawing your application. You can reapply later.
If you change your mind about starting your benefits, you can cancel your application for up to 12 months after you becoming entitled to retirement benefits. If you are already entitled to Medicare, you may choose to also withdraw your Medicare coverage.
Unexpected life changes may occur after you apply for Social Security retirement benefits and this process offers you an opportunity to “start over”. You are limited to only one withdrawal per lifetime.
Here are the things you want to consider before deciding to withdraw your application:
1. Anyone else who receives benefits based on your application, such as your spouse, must consent in writing to the withdrawal.
2. You must repay all the benefits you and your family have received from your original retirement application. This includes:
- Benefits your spouse or children received, whether they live with you or not.
- Money withheld from your Social Security retirement checks for 1. Medicare Part B, Part C, and Part D premiums, 2. Voluntary tax withholding (VTW) of federal income taxes for closed tax years, and 3. Garnishments such as child support and alimony obligations
To withdraw your application, fill out Social Security Form SSA-521. Include the reason why you want to withdraw the application on the form.
If you already have Medicare, your request must also clearly state whether your Medicare coverage should or should not be included in the withdrawal.
Send the completed form to your local Social Security office and they will notify you when there is a decision about your request and to let you know the amount of benefits you need to repay.
You have 60 days to cancel an approved withdrawal. After that, you will lose any possible entitlement to benefits for the period covered by your original application.
Once you have passed the 12-month time limit to withdraw your application, there is one other option for changing your benefit amount.
When you have reached full retirement age, but are not yet 70, you can ask the SSA to suspend your benefit payments and you will be able to restart them at a later date.
Your benefits will then accrue delayed retirement credits every month while they are suspended. These add up to an 8% increase every year.
Consider someone who started collecting benefits at age 62, suspended their payments at their FRA of 66 and then restarted them at 70.
Their eventual payment amount at age 70 will be almost as much as if they had originally started collecting their benefits at their FRA instead of at age 62.