Impacts of delaying Social Security


Q: I just read your comment explaining why some individuals had their Medicare Part B Premium go up. This article begs an additional question. I would like to delay drawing my Social Security until age 70. However, I would like to sign up for Medicare Part B when I turn 65 in order to avoid the penalty for delayed sign-up. I understand the way to do this is to have the Medicare Part B premium benefit taken out of my FERS (with CSRS component) pension, which I will begin to draw at age 58. However, if I do this, I will not be covered by the “hold harmless” provision that you discussed in your recent article. So it appears that I will need to change my plans and start drawing Social Security when I turn 65 (or earlier). Is there a way to delay drawing Social Security until after age 65 and still ensure that you are covered by the hold harmless provision without being assessed the penalty for delayed sign-up for Medicare Part B until an older age. The existing structure seems to discourage delayed sign up for Social Security until an older age.

A: Unless you are receiving a Social Security benefit, you would not be covered under the “hold harmless” provision of law. That provision protects those who receive a Social Security benefit from having it reduced in a year like this when there is no cost-of-living increase and Medicare Part B premiums are rising. If you were to retire and postpone enrollment in Medicare Part B, you would be subject to the delayed enrollment penalty. Whether it’s better to receive a reduced Social Security benefit at age 62 or postpone its receipt until a later age is one you’ll need to sort out for yourself. If you apply for a Social Security benefit at age 62, you would begin receiving a stream of income that would continue and, during normal times, increase each year for as long as you live. If you delay that benefit until a later age, the monthly benefit will be higher, but it will be paid over fewer years.  By that, I mean this. If you retire at 62 and die at age 80, you’ll have received a Social Security benefit for 18 years. If you delay receipt until age 70, you’ll have only received that benefit for 10 years.


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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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