Ask Larry: Can My Husband Get A Six Month Retroactive Social Security Retirement Benefit Lump Sum?

Today’s column addresses questions about retroactive lump sum payments, the timing of Social Security benefit payments and an update from a reader. Larry Kotlikoff is a Professor of Economics at Boston University and the founder and president of Economic Security Planning, Inc, which markets Maximize My Social Security and MaxiFi Planner.

See more Ask Larry answers here.

Have Social Security questions of your own you’d like answered? Ask Larry about Social Security here.


Can My Husband Get A Six Month Retroactive Social Security Retirement Benefit Lump Sum?

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Hi Larry, I am collecting my Social Security and my husband is collecting spousal benefits. He turned 70 in July, 2020. We do not want to increase our income this year due to tax reasons and Medicare IRMAA income limits. Collecting his full Social Security for half of this year would put us over the income limit for IRMAA and force us to pay the Medicare surcharge in 2022. Can he claim his full Social Security in January and still receive the six month retroactive lump sum benefit amount even though he will be collecting spousal benefits during those same six months from July-December? Thanks, Nicole

Hi Nicole, Yes, your husband could apply for his benefits in 1/2021 and claim the benefits retroactive to 7/2020. And assuming that his own rate is higher than his spousal rate, he would then be paid his back pay in a lump sum less the amount of the spousal benefits that he already received for the retroactive months. Best, Larry


Can I Get My Payments Earlier In The Month?

Hi Larry, I thought I might run this by you. My Social Security disability check arrives on the fourth Wednesday of every month. This is a concern as my bills are due in the first week of the month. I am going through a divorce and will be my sole provider. Thanks, Stacy

Hi Stacy, Unfortunately, you’re probably stuck with a payment date on the fourth Wednesday of each month. The date of payment of your benefits is determined by your birthday, and apparently your birthday falls between the 21st and 31st day of a month.

About the only way that your payment day could be changed to an earlier day of the month is if you become eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. SSI is a needs based program that’s administered by Social Security, and people can only qualify if they have relatively low income and resources. Best, Larry


Thank you

Hi Larry, Thank you. I just filed for my own Social Security retirement benefit to start at 70. Since I was born in 1950, when I reached 66 I was able file a restricted application for my spousal benefit only. I did this using your advice at each stage and everything went smoothly. I will get about $10,000 more each year from age 70 on. Although my husband and I came late to your guidance — he had already taken his Social Security retirement benefit at 62 — we have benefitted greatly from your advice. We could have done better if he had waited until at least his FRA. On the other hand, we traveled and had some wonderful experiences before his health deteriorated, so it has worked out well. Now we can be sure that whoever goes first, the survivor will have an adequate income. It took patience to wait, but I am so glad I did. Thank you for the software, books, Q&As and website. They have a huge difference to our income in our older age. Thanks, Helen

Hi Helen, That’s very nice to hear, and thanks for the kind words. It sounds like you made a very sound decision in following our advice and you’re very welcome! Best, Larry


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