THINKING RETIREMENT – ANDY LANDISEarlier this year I coined the term ”zombie Social Security.” You can zombify your Social Security so it’s both alive and dead, lurching toward a higher lifetime payout. It’s really called “voluntary suspension of benefits,” but it makes your Social Security act like the walking dead.

When you suspend your benefits, they’re in suspended animation. They’re “dead” in the sense that you get no payments. Because no payments are made, the payments are growing in the background, so they’ll be bigger when “re-animated.”

However, your payments are also “alive” enough that your spouse can get spousal payments on your record. Normally you’d have to get actual payments to permit spousal benefits. But suspended payments are just alive enough to allow them.

Don’t ask SSA to zombify your Social Security — they might think somebody ate your brain. Instead, ask for voluntary suspension of benefits. As long as you’re at least Full Retirement Age Full Retirement Age (FRA, currently 66), put it right on your application, or visit or call SSA to suspend payments already coming.

Later you’ll want to “re-animate” your payments. At 70, payments restart automatically. Or, since you voluntarily suspended them, you can voluntarily unsuspend them, any month you want before age 70. Just call or visit SSA and say “Start my payments.” To learn more see my full blog on this subject, click here.

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