Are You Leaving Social Security Benefits On The Table?

This is accomplished by another type of restricted application – an application restricted to retirement benefits only. In this case, Karen would tell the SSA folks that she only wants to file for her RIB, delaying filing for the WIB until later. 

This could also be deployed in the opposite manner – Karen could choose to restrict her application to only the WIB, and then later file for her own RIB. Assuming she waited until her FRA, using our fictitious example, her RIB would have increased to $1,333 by FRA. During the intervening four years, Karen would continue to receive the $1,010 WIB every month.

The critical point here is that Karen must know two things when she files for benefits: 1) which benefit will eventually be the larger, so that she can delay that one and collect on the other; and 2) that she must restrict her application at her present age to only the benefit she’s collecting at that point.

If Karen doesn’t take care to restrict her application, SSA will process the application as if she was applying for all available benefits at that point. You might think it’s a trivial thing, but the problem is that unless Karen restricts her application at that stage, she will be unable to apply for the other benefit later. In other words, upon reaching Full Retirement Age, Karen could not apply for the RIB (since she’s been collecting the larger WIB) if she did not restrict her application to only the WIB when she first applied. SSA will tell her that she cannot apply for RIB at this point because she applied for all available benefits back when she was 62. And there’s no “do-over” for this problem, much the same as in the first example.

SSA doesn’t tell you this – you have to know it on your own. SSA staff are famous for not providing advice when you are consulting with them. It seems that their primary objective is to get you the largest benefit possible at that given point in time – even if a greater benefit could be had later, by taking the time to restrict the application to only the benefit currently being received.

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