18. Because it used to be allowable to pay back all your retirement benefits and start over, many people think they can change their minds about starting retirement benefits early. Withdrawing your claim this way basically erased the claim as though it never happened and future benefits would therefore be higher.

Today, if you regret your choice, you can only withdraw your claim and payback benefits within 12 months of your early start. After 12 months, you are stuck with your choice until your FRA at which point you can suspend and earn delayed credits up to age 70. The credits are applied to your reduced benefit.

These are just a few quirks we run into with some frequency. Such complexity makes planning for Social Security benefits and claiming strategies an area where land mines await the unaware. It is also an area full of opportunity for financial planners to add value. 

Dan Moisand, CFP, has been featured as one of the America’s top independent financial advisors by Financial Planning, Financial Advisor, Investment Advisor, Investment News, Journal of Financial Planning, Accounting Today, Research, Wealth Manager, and Worth magazines.  He practices in Melbourne, Fla. You can reach him at [email protected].

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