Unexpected changes may occur after you make your decision about when to start your Social Security Retirement benefits.

If you are receiving Social Security Retirement benefits and you change your mind about when they should start, you may be able to withdraw your Social Security claim and re-apply at a future date.

However, if you change your mind 12 months or more after you became entitled to retirement benefits, you cannot withdraw your application.

Note: You are limited to one withdrawal per lifetime.

Withdrawing your application

Before you make your decision, there are some things you need to know about what will happen if you withdraw your application.

  • You must repay all the benefits you and your family received based on your retirement application. The repayment must include any:

    • Benefits your spouse or children received based on your application, whether or not they are living with you.

      Note: Anyone who received benefits based on your application must also consent in writing to the withdrawal.

    • Money withheld from your checks including:

      • Medicare Part B, Part C, and Part D premiums.

      • Voluntary tax withholding (VTW) of federal income taxes for closed tax years.

        You should contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or your tax advisor regarding any tax implications.

      • Garnishments

  • If you are already entitled to Medicare, you may also choose to withdraw your Medicare coverage. (You do not have to.)

    If you withdraw your Medicare coverage

    • If you withdraw your Medicare Part A coverage, you must repay all Medicare Part A benefits paid on your behalf.

    • If you withdraw the Medicare Part B coverage you already have, your request will be treated as a voluntary termination. You will have Part B coverage for the month you requested the withdrawal and the month after your request.

      If you file for benefits and Medicare again later, your Part B premiums may be higher due to your late enrollment.

    • If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan (Medicare Part C) and you withdraw from Medicare Part A or Part B (or both), your enrollment in your Advantage plan will automatically end.

    • Medicare Part D (Medicare prescription drug coverage)

      If you withdraw from Medicare Part A and Part B, you will no longer be eligible for Part D. If you keep Part A or Part B, you are still eligible for Medicare Part D.

      If you are not enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan and you do not have prescription coverage that is, on average, at least as good as Medicare prescription drug coverage, you will pay a penalty if you enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan in the future.

    • Information for TRICARE Beneficiaries

      If your withdrawal includes your Medicare Part A coverage, you may lose your TRICARE coverage. If you do not withdraw your Medicare Part A coverage, you may need to stay enrolled in Medicare Part B to keep your TRICARE coverage.

      Please go to TRICARE's "Beneficiaries Eligible for TRICARE and Medicare" page for more information.

    If you keep your Medicare coverage

    If you keep your Medicare coverage and it includes Part B, you will be billed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for future Part B premiums.

    If you do not pay the premiums timely, you may lose your Part B Medicare coverage. (You will have the option of automatically paying the bill from an account at your bank or financial institution.)

  • If you are not entitled to Medicare, you will not automatically be enrolled when you turn 65.

    Be sure to contact Social Security about 3 months before you turn age 65 to check about applying for Medicare. Failure to apply for Medicare when you are 65 could result in a higher premium.

  • If you are also entitled to railroad or veteran's benefits, you should check with the Railroad Retirement Board and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) separately about how your withdrawal affects those benefits.

    The Railroad Retirement Board and the VA make their own determinations and are responsible for their own programs. 

How to withdraw your application

  1. Fill out Social Security Form SSA-521 and include the reason why you want to withdraw the application on the form.

    Note: If you already have Medicare, your request must also clearly state whether your Medicare coverage should or should not be included in the withdrawal.

    If you want to keep your benefits and just terminate your Medicare Part B coverage, you cannot use Form SSA-521.

  2. Send us the completed form. We will notify you of the amount of benefits you need to repay. 

We will notify you when there is a decision about your withdrawal request.

You have 60 days to cancel an approved withdrawal. After that, you will lose any possible entitlement for the period covered by your original application.

If you cannot withdraw your retirement application

If you have reached full retirement age, but are not yet age 70, you can ask us to suspend benefit payments.