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What are Life Changing Events?

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

2507. What are Life Changing Events?

There will be cases when a beneficiary or the spouse of a beneficiary will have experienced one or more events causing a significant reduction in modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). A "significant" reduction in MAGI is a reduction that decreases or eliminates the Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA) for a specific year. A beneficiary who has experienced a life-changing event that caused a significant reduction in MAGI may request SSA to make a new initial determination using a more recent tax year than the tax year used previously.

A life changing event can be one or more of the following seven events:

  • Death of Spouse

  • Marriage

  • Divorce or annulment

  • Work reduction

  • Work stoppage

  • Loss of income from income-producing property

  • Loss or reduction of certain forms of pension income.

Last Revised: May 22, 2007

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Common Mistakes About Social Security

A recent poll found about half of respondents made mistakes on the following :

1. Retirement benefits will not be reduced if I claim at age 65 => FALSE. Full retirement age is rising.

2. A spouse can receive Social Security even if they have no earnings history => TRUE

3. If my spouse dies, that will have no effect on my Social Security payment => FALSE

4. Social Security benefits depend only on my earnings history, not when I claim => FALSE

Four Common Social Security Claiming Mistakes

1. Not knowing your full retirement age (FRA). 'Full benefit' retirement age is rising beyond age 65 to age 67.

2. Not knowing you can file for benefits three months in advance of receiving income

3. Forgetting Social Security benefits can be subject to income tax.

4. Thinking early filers can later receive 'full benefits'. If filing early, your benefits are permanently reduced.

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