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Claimant May Restrict Retroactivity

Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at

1514. Claimant May Restrict Retroactivity

1514.1 Can you restrict your right to retroactive benefits?

Yes. You may restrict any retroactive right to benefits. Make your request in writing at any time before we make a decision on your application.

1514.2 Why might you want to restrict your right to retroactive benefits?

We do not use "waived" months in computing the reduction factor. (See §723.) This may result in a higher benefit amount for later months. You may want to give up benefits for certain months in order to receive somewhat higher benefits later on.

1514.3 What benefits may you NOT exclude from your application?

In some cases, you may be eligible for a reduced spouse's benefit or a reduced divorced spouse's benefit in the same month you become entitled to retirement insurance benefits (RIB) on your own record. In this instance, you are deemed to have filed for the reduced spouse's benefit. Law does not permit you to exclude these benefits from the scope of the RIB application.

The opposite of the above is also true. You may not exclude a reduced RIB from the scope of your application for reduced spouse's benefits if you are eligible for the RIB in the initial month of entitlement to reduced spouse's benefits.

1514.4 Can you change your decision to restrict retroactivity?

In certain cases, you may change your decision to restrict retroactivity. For example, if you discover that earnings in the year were more or less than you expected, you can change the month of entitlement to any month within the retroactive period of the original application. However, any other beneficiary who would lose some or all of those benefits because of such a change must agree to it in writing. Also, any benefits that were paid based on entitlement cancelled by the change must be repaid.

Last Revised: Feb. 6, 2003


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