Unexpected life changes may occur after you apply for Social Security retirement benefits.
If you change your mind about starting your benefits, you can cancel your application for up to 12 months after you became entitled to retirement benefits. This process is called a withdrawal. You can reapply later.
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What Happens When You Withdraw Your Application
There are a few things to know before deciding to withdraw your application.
- Anyone else who receives benefits based on your application must consent in writing to the withdrawal.
- You must repay all the benefits you and your family received from your retirement application. This includes:
- Benefits your spouse or children received, whether they live with you or not.
- Money withheld from your Social Security retirement checks for:
- If you are already entitled to Medicare, you may choose to also withdraw your Medicare coverage.
If you are also entitled to railroad or veterans benefits, you should check with the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) about how your withdrawal affects those benefits. The RRB and the VA make their own determinations and are responsible for their own programs.
Withdrawing Both Social Security and Medicare Benefits
There is additional information to consider if you also withdraw your Medicare coverage.
- You must repay all Medicare Part A benefits paid on your behalf.
- Your Medicare Part B coverage is treated as a voluntary termination. You will have Part B coverage for the month you requested the withdrawal and the next month.
- If you file for benefits and Medicare again later, your Part B premiums may be higher due to your late enrollment.
Withdrawing from Medicare Part A or Medicare Part B can also affect your coverage under a Medicare Advantage plan (previously known as Part C) and Medicare Part D (Medicare prescription drug coverage).
- Your Medicare Advantage enrollment will automatically end if you withdraw from Medicare Part A, Part B, or both.
- You will no longer be eligible for Medicare Part D if you withdraw from Medicare Part A and Part B. You will pay a penalty if you enroll in Medicare Part D in the future.
- If you keep Part A or Part B, you are still eligible for Medicare Part D.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will handle your future bills for Part B premiums if you decide to keep that coverage. You can choose to pay the bill automatically from your bank or financial institution.
You may need to have a personal interview if you want to terminate Part B. Learn more about terminating Medicare Part B.
Information for TRICARE Beneficiaries
If you have TRICARE and 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. For more information, visit TRICARE's Beneficiaries Eligible for TRICARE and Medicare.
How to Withdraw Your Application
- Fill out Social Security Form SSA-521. Include the reason why you want to withdraw the application on the form.
If you already have Medicare, your request must also clearly state whether your Medicare coverage should or should not be included in the withdrawal.
- Send the completed form to your local Social Security office. We will notify you when there is a decision about your request and let you know the amount of benefits you need to repay.
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.