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Social Security Q&A

When to Start Social Security Asked Often; What Happens When You Do Not Return Overpayment

There is an easy way and then there are options a little tougher for SSA to recover any overpayment

Sept. 20, 2013 – The often asked questions is answered again by Oscar Garcia, Informational Specialist with the Social Security Administration. He also has answers for a more touchy question - what happens when you do not repay and overpayment from SSA.


I will be 66 next month. I have already enrolled in Medicare, but I have not started my Social Security.  When would be the best time to start my retirement benefits?


Everyone’s situation is different, but here is some information that will help you decide what is best for you. The age you start receiving benefits can make a big difference in your monthly benefit amount. You may need your monthly income to be sufficient for a long time, because more people are living longer than ever before. For example, the typical 65-year-old today will live to age 83, and one in four 65-year-olds will live to age 90.


Related Archived Stories


Social Security Joins Others in Government to Meet Supreme Court Order on Same Sex Marriage

Social Security Q&A author also reminds seniors there is help available to pay for Medicare

Sept. 11, 2013

Social Security, Medicare adjusting programs to accommodate married gays, lesbians

Social Security pays spouse claims for same-sex couples; Medicare changes nursing home coverage in Medicare Advantage

Sept. 3, 2013

Senior Wants to Know Why Social Security is So Interested in Our Marriage History When We Apply

Another senior needs to show proof of his income from SSA and wants to know if this is available online.

June 12, 2013

Social Security Specialist Answers Questions About Benefits, Explains Latest Trustees Report

An interesting one today - do family members qualify on your record for Social Security benefits only when you die? - June 7, 2013

How to Fix a Hole in Social Security Work History; Must You Buy Medicare Part A Hospital Insurance?

As more open ‘my Social Security’ accounts there are certain to be more questions for SSA to answer in this weekly Q&A - May 29, 2013

Read more Social Security News

also check Medicare and Senior Politics


For more information on life expectancy, go to our website at planners/lifeexpectancy.htm.  

If you choose to delay receiving your retirement benefit beyond full retirement age, your benefit will be increased by as much as 8 percent for each year up to age 70. Your benefits will no longer increase if you delay beyond age 70.

An important reason to delay your benefits for as long as possible is realized when it comes to paying survivors benefits on your record. If you are married and die before your spouse, he or she may be eligible for a benefit based on your work record. If you wait until after your full retirement age to begin receiving benefits, the surviving spouse benefits based on your record will be higher. The longer you wait past full retirement age, the higher the benefit that can be paid to your surviving spouse.  

Some people choose to start benefits when they reach full retirement age. This is because you can work and earn as much as you want and still receive your full Social Security benefit payment.

Also, additional work may increase your benefits. Each year we review the records for all Social Security recipients who work. If your latest year of earnings turns out to be one of your highest years, we refigure your benefit and pay you any increase due.

For more information and to find copies of our publications, visit our website at You can also call toll-free, 1-800-772-1213. We can answer specific questions from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Generally, you will have a shorter wait time if you call early or late.


What happens if I do not repay my overpayment?


If you are currently receiving benefits, you can agree to withhold a portion of your future month's payments.  If you are no longer receiving benefits, we can withhold any Federal payment you may be due including your income tax refund. 

We also can ask your employer to withhold some of your wages to repay the overpayment, and we can collect the overpayment from your benefits if you become entitled again later. Contact Social Security to find out your best option for repaying the overpayment.

Oscar Garcia is a Public Affairs Specialist with the Social Security Administration. You can direct your questions to him at: SSA, 411 Richland Hills Drive, San Antonio, Texas, 78245. You can also email him at

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