Weekend Reading: The Hidden Hazards of Taking a Social Security Lump Sum

This article appears as part of Casey Weade's Weekend Reading for Retirees series. Every Friday, Casey highlights four hand-picked articles on trending retirement topics and delivers them straight to your email inbox. Get on the list here.
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Weekend Reading

When it comes to deciding whether you should claim Social Security benefits at Full Retirement Age (FRA), or delay and receive credit, several factors come into play which you should be aware of.


Delayed benefits: Above all, the biggest upside to delaying benefits every year past your FRA results in an eight percent annual increase. However, if you change your mind and no longer want to delay benefits, you also have the option to file for a retroactive lump sum payment up to six months past your FRA. Unknown to many, taking this lump sum can also come along with consequences, including:

📌A potentially higher tax payment: Taking the lump sum payout versus collecting doled-out payments could push you into a higher tax bracket

📌Impact to your Income-Related Monthly Adjusted Amount (IRMAA): Monthly premiums for Medicare Parts A and B are determined by your income, and increasing that income with a lump sum could result in a higher IRMAA, thus higher healthcare expenses

📌Impact to survivor benefits: If you’re married and take the lump sum payment, your spouse will then receive a smaller survivor benefit upon your passing

Make mindful decisions: The bottom line is, don’t seek claiming advice from the Social Security Administration. They aren’t fiduciaries and they aren’t privy to the big picture.