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How to Stop Social Security Retirement Benefits

When You Can Stop or Suspend Social Security?

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You can stop, or pause, your Social Security. Here's how to do it.

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If you already filed for Social Security retirement benefits and now you want to stop them and reapply later, can you? Maybe... it depends on how old you are. 

You cannot Stop Social security unless:

  1. You are within 12 months of when your benefits started, or
  2. You have already reached full retirement age.

Both options are explained below.

Stop Social Security Before Full Retirement Age

In you have not yet reached your full retirement age (FRA) and you are within 12 months of when your benefits started, then in order to stop receiving your Social Security benefits, you must repay what you have received so far.

If you filed for benefits at an early age, have been receiving benefits for more than 12 months, and you have not yet reached your full retirement age (FRA) then you are out of luck. You cannot stop or pause benefits until you reach your FRA.

If you have already reached your FRA, then you can put a pause on your benefits by requesting what is called a voluntary suspension, explained below.

Voluntary Suspension - Works After You Have Reached Full Retirement Age

If you have reached your FRA but you are not yet age 70, you can stop Social Security benefits by asking them to suspend your benefits. This is often referred to as a "voluntary suspension" of benefits. Your benefits can then start accumulating delayed retirement credits, so you can collect more when you reapply later.

Why Would You Want to Stop Benefits Anyway?

If you have not yet reached your FRA, you might put a pause on benefits if you are headed back to work and your benefits will be reduced because of the earnings limit. You might also consider a pause if you realize you made a mistake. Perhaps you claimed early, but later learned you could lock in a higher survivor benefit for your spouse by delaying your start date. 

If you are past FRA, the most common reason to stop benefits would be so you can get more later. This strategy may also create a few years where you have less taxable income and you may be able to convert IRA assets to a Roth, or realize capital gains at a zero percent tax bracket. This approach can have far reaching effects as there may be tax benefits to pausing your benefits that are not readily apparent unless you are working with a tax advisor. 

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