Should I Claim Social Security Now Due to the Coronavirus?

Senior woman at home
Photo by Elnur / Shutterstock.com

Welcome to our “Social Security Q&A” series. You ask a question about Social Security, and a guest expert answers it.

You can learn how to ask a question of your own below. And if you would like a personalized report detailing your optimal Social Security claiming strategy, click here. Check it out: It could result in receiving thousands of dollars more in benefits over your lifetime!

Today’s question comes from Stephanie:

“Is it possible to get income from Social Security by claiming Social Security now if I need financial help during this period where people are being forced to stay home during the COVID-19 period?”

Using Social Security as a short-term loan

Stephanie: It is possible to claim Social Security benefits at any time after 62 (60 if you are a widow or widower), but normally a claiming decision is final. If you were planning to delay claiming so that you would receive higher benefits later, claiming Social Security benefits now could mean that your benefits will be lower for the rest of your life.

There is a way around this, but it might not be satisfactory.

If you claim benefits now, you still have the option of changing your mind for the next 12 months. That is, you could claim benefits now and receive benefits that might help tide you over for a short period of time, and then tell the Social Security Administration that you want to reverse that decision.

There are two caveats, however:

  1. You are unlikely to receive your benefits immediately. So, if you have really pressing financial needs, you will still have to find another source of funds until your first check arrives.
  2. You will have to pay back any benefits that you received when you inform Social Security that you want to reverse your decision. Thus, this could be considered an interest-free short-term loan, but as with any loan, you will have to pay it back.

If your income is below certain limits, you can expect to receive the $1,200 per person that is being sent out as part of the $2 trillion federal stimulus package intended to support the economy during the coronavirus pandemic. How soon this money will arrive depends on whether the government has your bank information so it can send the money to you as a direct deposit. (In fact, you may have already received this money.)

If the government has to write a check, it could take much longer to receive your money. There has been some confusion about whether you need to file a tax return to receive this money. If you receive a Social Security check through direct deposit, your money should come reasonably soon regardless of whether you file a tax return.

Got a question you’d like answered?

You can ask a question simply by hitting “reply” to our email newsletter, just as you would with any email in your inbox. If you’re not subscribed, fix that right now by clicking here. It’s free, only takes a few seconds, and will get you valuable information every day!

The questions I’m likeliest to answer are those that will interest other readers. So, it’s better not to ask for super-specific advice that applies only to you.

About me

I hold a doctorate in economics from the University of Pennsylvania and taught economics at the University of Delaware for many years. Presently, I am teaching at Gallaudet University.

In 2009, I co-founded SocialSecurityChoices.com, an internet company that provides advice on Social Security claiming decisions. You can learn more about that by clicking here.

Disclaimer: We strive to provide accurate information with regard to the subject matter covered. It is offered with the understanding that we are not offering legal, accounting, investment or other professional advice or services, and that the SSA alone makes all final determinations on your eligibility for benefits and the benefit amounts. Our advice on claiming strategies does not comprise a comprehensive financial plan. You should consult with your financial adviser regarding your individual situation.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
How to Avoid Being Surprised by 7 Nasty Expenses
How to Avoid Being Surprised by 7 Nasty Expenses

Major expenses are difficult to predict, but there are ways to make sure you’re protected.

10 Products That Will Help You Save Money
10 Products That Will Help You Save Money

Sometimes, spending a little cash right now can save you a lot of money down the road.

How to Get the Best Possible Deal on Car Insurance
How to Get the Best Possible Deal on Car Insurance

This is the last article on understanding and shopping for car insurance that you’ll ever need.

7 Bank Accounts With Extra Perks for Seniors
7 Bank Accounts With Extra Perks for Seniors

These accounts offer exclusive discounts and other perks — including interest — to older customers.

10 Foods That Can Keep for Years
10 Foods That Can Keep for Years

These are some of the longest-lasting groceries you can buy.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone
8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone

It’s never too early to start learning how to live well while living on less.

The Next 5 Groups Who Will Get the COVID-19 Vaccine
The Next 5 Groups Who Will Get the COVID-19 Vaccine

The CDC has unveiled a schedule that likely will determine who gets the next doses.

Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?
Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?

Can an adult daughter tap into her late mother’s benefit?

11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco
11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco

Not all generics are worthwhile, but these are among the best from Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers

For the second straight year, a growing number of Americans believe they’ve fallen prey to this scam.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have all of these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?
Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?

The rules are complicated when it comes to eligibility for survivors benefits.

9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry
9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry

Keep more of future paychecks by eliminating these budget-busting unnecessary expenses.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked
11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked

Does your retirement budget account for all of these costs?

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.