Yes. If you have reached your full retirement age (the age at which you are entitled to 100 percent of the benefit calculated from your lifetime earnings) but are not yet 70, you can request a suspension of retirement benefits. Full retirement age is 66 and 4 months for people born in 1956 and is gradually rising to 67 for those born in 1960 and after.
If you can afford to do without your retirement benefit for a few years, this might make long-term financial sense. During a suspension, you earn delayed retirement credits, which boost your eventual benefit by two-thirds of 1 percent for each suspended month (or 8 percent for each suspended year). When you resume collecting Social Security, you’ll have locked in a higher monthly payment for life.
You can request a suspension by phone, in writing or in person at your local Social Security office. Local offices fully reopened April 7 after being closed to walk-in traffic for more than two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Social Security recommends calling in advance and scheduling an appointment to avoid long waits.
You can ask Social Security to resume payments at any time until you turn 70. If you haven’t done it by then, Social Security will automatically reinstate your benefits in the higher amount.
If you have not yet reached full retirement age, the only option for stopping Social Security payments is to apply for a “withdrawal of benefits,” a more formal process that, unlike a suspension, requires you to repay Social Security the benefits you have received to date.
Keep in mind
- A voluntary suspension is for retirement benefits only. There is no such provision for family and survivor benefits.
- As long as your retirement benefits are suspended, your spouse and children cannot collect family benefits on your work record. Similarly, you cannot collect spousal benefits on your wife’s or husband’s record if your own retirement payments are suspended.
- You cannot collect retroactive benefits for the months in which your payments were suspended. Retroactivity is only available in connection with an initial claim for retirement benefits, if made after full retirement age.