3 Ways To Fix Social Security Mistakes

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Are you getting the most out of your social security benefits? If not, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Many people make mistakes when it comes to their social security benefits. This guide will discuss some of the most common social security mistakes and how to fix them. Don’t let your hard-earned money go to waste! Read on for more information. Starting Social Security prematurely is common. Here are three ways to fix Social Security mistakes to get back on track.

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Repay Social Security Benefits

If you change your mind within the first 12 months of electing benefits, you can still file a Form SSA-521 to withdraw the application and pay back any benefits.

If a spouse or children received benefits, those benefits would also need to be repaid.

Once benefits have been repaid, you are treated like you were never elected. This means you will not receive an actuarial reduction due to the original filing and can file a restricted application for spousal benefits.

The restricted application is available only to claimants born before Jan. 2, 1954.

How To Fix Social Security

Go Back To Work

If you are outside the 12-month window and decide to return to work between 62 and your full retirement age (FRA), your benefits will be subject to an earnings test.

The 2020 earnings test exempt amount is $18,240 ($48,600 in the year you turn in your FRA).

Social Security will withhold $1 in benefits for every $2 of earnings above that amount.

This is not a tax.

  • Let’s say you elected benefits at 62 and received a $1,800 monthly benefit (75% of $2,400), and now you want to go back to work at 63, earning $100,000 per year.
  • $100,000 minus $18,240 is $81,760.
  • Divide that by two, and the earning penalty would be $40,880.
  • Because that is greater than the total Social Security benefit of $21,600, you would not receive any Social Security for this period.

We want to be clear that the “earnings penalty” is not a tax because Social Security would adjust the reduction on your benefits for each month you didn’t receive a check due to the earnings test.

If you received benefits for the 12 months, you were 62 but then worked and did not receive any further benefits until age 66. The Social Security Administration would return to your record and adjust your benefit upward.

They will treat it as if you had initially been elected at 65 instead of 62, so you would then begin receiving a check for $2,240 plus any cost of living adjustments accrued.

3 Ways To Fix Social Security Mistakes

Suspend Social Security Benefits

There is another option for those who don’t want to return to work.

Once you reach your FRA, you can voluntarily suspend benefits.

You must call or visit a Social Security office and request a voluntary suspension.

You can even call before your FRA with instructions to suspend at the FRA.

If requesting a suspension, you will be suspending benefits for anyone receiving a benefit from your record.

By electing at age 62, you reduced your monthly benefit to 75% of what you would have received if elected at the FRA.

By suspending benefits at age 66, you will increase your monthly benefit by 8% per year until age 70, for a total of 32%.

If you increase 75% by 32%, you get 99% (.75 x 1.32 = .99).

In other words, you can take Social Security from 62 to 66, suspend benefits from 66 to 70, and still get 99% of the benefit you would have received if you waited until the FRA.

This should not be viewed as a claiming strategy, only as a means of minimizing the damage of a mistake.

There are two reasons one wouldn’t want to elect at 62 with the intent of suspending at the FRA:

  • If you die between 62 and the FRA, your widow would be permanently stuck with a substantially reduced benefit
  • You would forfeit any future option of claiming a restricted spousal benefit
    • Once you file for your benefit, even if it’s in suspension, your spousal benefit is reduced as if you were receiving it.

If your suspended benefit is higher than your spousal benefit, you will not receive a spousal benefit.

Maximize Social Security Benefits For Your Spouse Who Has Not Started Their Benefits

If your spouse has not yet elected to take their SSI, delaying their benefits may offset the mistakes you’ve already made.

Next Steps

The key takeaway from this guide is to remain mindful of your Social Security benefits and the mistakes you can make. It can be easy to overlook various aspects of these benefits, but following the advice provided in this guide will help prevent any costly errors. Overall, it’s essential to consider your future when planning out your Social Security benefits. If you need further assistance organizing or understanding your Social Security options and risks, our trustworthy financial advisors at [Organization Name] are ready to help! Feel free to reach out for a free quote to move forward confidently and maximize the returns on your hard-earned money. Taking charge of these decisions for your life now can positively impact your retirement journey and beyond.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What if you make a mistake on your social security application?

If you make a mistake on your Social Security application, you can contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) and request to have it corrected. In most cases, this can be done by submitting an updated application with the correct information. If there was an error in processing your initial application, the SSA might be able to correct it on their end without requiring any additional documentation from you.

What if social Security makes a mistake?

If the Social Security Administration (SSA) makes a mistake, you may be able to have it corrected by submitting an appeal. Depending on the nature of the error, you may need to provide additional documentation for the SSA to consider. If the mistake resulted from inaccurate information provided by you, however, no corrections can be made, and you will have to wait for your benefits to begin.

How do I get the $16728 Social Security bonus?

To receive the entire bonus amount, you should work for as long as possible and delay receiving your Social Security benefits until you reach the age of 70. Also, you can increase your benefit amount by negotiating a salary increase every two or three years during your career. Changing jobs throughout work can also help you demonstrate your value and earn more money.

How do I appeal a Social Security underpayment?

To initiate an appeal, you can complete an appeal form online or download and print the form from www.ssa.gov/forms. Alternatively, call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or visit your Social Security office to obtain the necessary forms.

Can I make changes to my Social Security online?

Suppose you receive Social Security benefits (retirement, survivors, or disability benefits) or are registered for Medicare. You can use the My Social Security account’s My Profile tab to change your address or direct deposit details online. You have the option to select the effective date of the change as well.

Can I stop my Social Security and restart it later?

Yes, you are allowed to withdraw your application and reapply again in the future. However, suppose you have already started receiving payments. In that case, you must repay the money you and your family received and any deducted amounts for Medicare premiums, taxes, or garnishments.

Does Social Security forgive an overpayment?

If you did not cause the overpayment and cannot pay it back, you can complete forming SSA 632 (Request for Waiver of Overpayment Recovery) to request a waiver.

Can Social Security take money from my bank account?

No, Social Security funds are safeguarded by law and cannot be garnished or accessed by debt collectors.

How long do you have to correct Social Security earnings?

You can correct Social Security earnings within three years, three months, and 15 days after the year the wages were paid or self-employment income was earned.

Related Reading: Social Security Savvy

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

I’m a licensed financial professional focusing on annuities and insurance for more than a decade. My former role was training financial advisors, including for a Fortune Global 500 insurance company. I’ve been featured in Time Magazine, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, and Women’s Health Magazine.

The Annuity Expert is an online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. My goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning or find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates for you. 

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