The Social Security Administration can hold off the payments of pensions to you until you request to reinstate them. This process is known as “file and suspend” or “apply and suspend.”

What is file and suspend in Social Security? 

If you’re retired and can live off your other cash reserves, withholding your social security benefits is a solid financial strategy to collect higher monthly checks in the future.

The Social Security apply and suspend strategy entails requesting the SSA to stop paying your benefits until you reactivate them. If you’ve hit retirement age — 66 years and two months for those born in 1955 — you might want to consider this option, as it boosts your savings by 8% for every suspended year. That means an additional 32% more benefits from age 66 to 70. 

Can you suspend your Social Security?

Despite the issue of Social Security insolvency, citing that existing funds can pay 100% of benefits only until 2033, many retirees choose to suspend their benefits to stretch their savings. Fortunately, the government is addressing the shortfall regarding benefit distribution in the next few years.

Again, as long as you are retirement age but under 70, you can suspend your benefits.

Why file and suspend Social Security?

Choosing to stall your benefits has the following advantages:

  • You can collect up to 32% higher benefits when you turn 70. If you should receive $2,000 monthly, you’ll collect $2,640 per month instead.
  • The SSA puts your money in United States Treasury securities. It’s a safe place to park your hard-earned savings. Several retirees lose their wealth in various scams, leading to debts, so ensuring your money is secure is key.
  • You can prolong your savings for years if you stop Social Security payouts for later.
  • You’ll have supplemental funds to pay for rising healthcare expenses that take up a considerable portion of retirement income.

How many times can you suspend Social Security benefits?

You can defer your benefits any number of times you need. If you find a job to support yourself after turning 66, inform the SSA to halt your retirement credits. If you lost employment any time between age 66 and 70, simply request to reinstate your benefits.

You can defer your benefits any number of times you need.

Here are some things to be aware of about suspending social security benefits:

  • You do not have to sign any legal documents. You can call or write to the SSA to process the request.
  • The SSA pays benefits the month after they’re due. If you contact the office in August to put September benefits off, you’ll still collect your August funds in September. You won’t be receiving your benefits by October.
  • You can resume your benefits any time before you turn 70.
  • Benefits automatically restart during the month you turn 70, whether you apply or not.
  • With the exemption of a divorced spouse, no one else can claim benefits on your record if they’re temporarily unavailable.

Social Security file and suspend deadline

There’s no deadline for withholding your retirement savings, but the changes on your account typically take effect the following month. You should note this to avoid confusion. The same rule applies when reinstating your benefits.

The Social Security suspend and restart rule follows the “deemed filing policy” for married spouses. If someone claims retirement savings, their spouse or children receive benefits, too.

How to file and suspend Social Security online?

Postponing your Social Security benefits is easy. There are two methods — communicating it verbally or in writing. To contact the SSA, you can call 1-800-772-1213 from Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you have an account, you may contact the SSA online.

How to restart suspended Social Security benefits?

If you wish to restart your benefits any time before you turn 70, contact the SSA or visit a local office. They will access your records and let you know what you need to do to reinstate the benefits. 

If you’ve started collecting Social Security payouts early, you can have a “one-time do-over.” Suppose you’ve been receiving benefits for seven months and decided you want to claim a larger monthly payout in the future — you can request a withdrawal using the SSA-521 form.

You can cancel up to 12 months of benefits after becoming eligible. However, you must repay the seven months of credits you and your family have collected, including taxes and Medicare premiums. Social Security will then treat you as if you’ve never applied for benefits, allowing you to restart your credits at full retirement age or file a suspension.

Suspending Social Security benefits can boost your retirement savings

Your income sources could be limited during retirement. The SSA provides a reasonable investment strategy to grow your savings and claim higher monthly subsidies in the future. If your income can support your family’s current lifestyle, putting your benefits off for when you need them seems useful. You can reinstate them any month you need.

Jack Shaw is a writer and editor for the lifestyle magazine Modded, where he has explored topics of health, wealth, and relationships. He’s as a car enthusiast and lover of nature, trying to enjoy life one day at a time.