If there is one thing advisor Jeremy Keil, president of Keil Financial Partners, specializes in, it’s Social Security strategies, including Social Security do-overs that help his clients maximize their benefits.

The standard advice suggests that Americans won’t get a second chance to decide when to start taking their Social Security benefits, but there are actually two things clients can do over: They can suspend their benefits to a later date or withdraw the benefit—two strategies that can end up netting them substantially higher payouts per month, said Keil, a retirement-focused advisor in the Milwaukee area who manages $125 million.

Recently, Keil had a client who inherited $25,000 from his mother and wanted to know where he could invest the money for the best return.

“He had just filed for Social Security about 10 months earlier, which was paying him a benefit of $2,500 per month. We withdrew the payment, repaid the $25,000 and had him reapply. The next month he started getting almost $200 a month more, which will last as long as he or his wife is alive. Not a bad way to invest mom’s inheritance,” said Keil, whose clients have an average age of 64.

In another instance, Keil had one client who was on Social Security Disability Insurance, which automatically switched to the program’s retirement benefit when the client reached age 67. “We did the math and showed him that he, and especially his younger spouse, would come out ahead 90% of the time by suspending his retirement benefit, taking it later—likely at 70—and drawing down his taxable traditional IRA money to live on now,” Keil said.

In addition to increasing the client’s monthly benefit in the future, Keil said he set up the client and the wife “for a much more stable, lower-tax Social Security benefit in the future.”

One of the easiest ways for clients to maximize Social Security benefits, of course, is to simply wait and file at age 70, when the monthly benefit tops out.

But in some cases, clients who have already filed can still earn up to an 8% annual increase in benefits by applying for a simple do-over—either a suspension or a withdrawal of benefits, said Keil, who holds a National Social Security Advisor Certificate.

“I just think that Social Security maximizing is something you should always consider, even if the client has already filed,” Keil said.

How To Qualify
A suspension of benefits is only available if a client filed for early benefits and is now above full retirement age, but not yet 70 years old. However, if a client wants to withdraw benefits, they are only able to do so if they have received benefits for less than 12 months and have not filed for a withdrawal before, according to the Social Security Administration.

Those who do qualify to suspend their Social Security benefits can earn delayed retirement credits of 0.666% each month they’re suspended, or 8% annually, as well as cost-of-living adjustments.

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