Weekend Reading: Getting Comfortable Delaying Social Security with Six-Month 'Reversible' Delays

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

Your decision regarding whether or not to delay Social Security benefits might come with a feeling of finality, but rest assured, that’s not the case.


The six-month strategy: In reality, Social Security rules allow you to reverse your decision if you file early then change your mind – Or, if you delay filing then decide you do in fact want to receive benefits. To relieve the pressure of viewing your Social Security decision as a one-time choice, you can instead reframe your mindset and consider, or “review”, the choice you make in six-month intervals.

From your full retirement age (FRA) to age 70 (maximum filing age, where you receive delayed credits), you have a three-to-four-year window of opportunity to utilize this six-month decision strategy. In the event you decide to delay filing benefits, but change your mind, you can file a retroactive application and still claim your benefits that would have been received within the six months prior. On the other hand, if you decide to file for benefits at FRA then want to delay instead, you can cancel your application for up to 12 months after you became entitled.

The power of reflection: Having the ability to revisit your decision on when to file Social Security and the confidence in knowing it is “reversible” can in turn help you make better choices about what makes the most sense for you. If you’re anxious about holding out for higher benefits in the future, this may offer you a bit of peace of mind along the way.