Today’s Social Security column addresses questions about when and how continuing to work may affect benefit rates, when widow’s benefits may become available and how timing may affect spousal benefit rates. Larry Kotlikoff is Professor of Economics at Boston University and founder and president of The Economic Security Plan, Inc.
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Do you have your own Social Security questions you’d like answered? Ask Larry about Social Security here,
Will continuing to work increase my Social Security retirement benefits?
Hi Larry, I turn 66 in October. A friend says this means my first check will be in February – is this true? If I continue working full time, will my check stay the same or grow as I continue working? thanks benny
Hi Benny, Social Security retirement benefits are based on the average of a person’s highest 35 years of Social Security covered wage-indexed earnings. So your future earnings will only increase your benefit rate if they are greater than or equal to one of the 35 years currently being used to calculate your benefit rate.
If you were born in October 1957, your full retirement age (FRA) for Social Security retirement benefits is 66 and six months. So unless you were born on the 1st of October, your FRA month would be February 2024. However, Social Security pays benefits after one month, so if you claim benefits starting in February 2024, your first payment will be scheduled for sometime in March. 2024.
Most importantly, though, you have many different filing options to consider in FRA besides just filing for your benefits. Your best option depends on many different factors, and the best filing strategy for each individual depends on all of those different factors.
You might consider using my company’s software— maximize my social security Or maxify planner — To ensure that your family receives the highest lifetime benefits. Social Security calculators provided by other companies or nonprofits may give reasonable suggestions if they are designed with the utmost care. Our software can also verify your correct benefit amount, making sure you’re not being paid too little or too much, which could lead to potential clawbacks due to Social Security being overpaid. best, larry
When and at what age can I collect my widow or retirement benefits?
Hi Larry, I am a 60 year old widow. I work full time and earn a small check. I’m currently working with my financial planner to prepare for retirement in the next two months. If I take widow benefits now at age 60, will they be reduced or at the full amount? Also, will widow’s benefits be deducted from my retirement benefits? thanks, cathy
Hi Cathy, If you apply for widow’s benefits at age 60 you will not receive your husband’s full rate. If you claim Widow’s Benefit in the month leading up to age 60, your benefit rate will be calculated at 71.5% of your spouse’s Primary Sum Assured (PIA). , The percentage you receive will vary depending on your exact age at the time you claim the benefit.
Your best filing strategy may be to either file early for reduced widow’s benefits and then switch to your own record at 70, or file for reduced retirement benefits on your own record and then switch to full. Can file for widow’s benefit at retirement age (FRA). Generally, you will want to start out taking a low gain first and then switch to the higher record when it reaches its highest possible rate. best, larry
Is there a certain time period when I need to notify Social Security that I want spousal benefits?
Hi Larry, When should I apply for my spousal benefits? I am older than my husband and I will reach full retirement age in 2024 and plan to collect my Social Security benefits at that time.
My husband will reach full retirement age in 2027 and plans to receive benefits at that time. His estimated profit would be more than double my estimated profit. My understanding is that if I collect my benefits early, I will not be able to collect the full 50% spousal benefit.
Is there a certain time period required for me to notify Social Security that I want to receive spousal benefits? Also, am I correct in my understanding that if he dies before I do, I will receive 100% of his benefit amount. thanks, louis
Hi Louise, You may not qualify for spousal benefits at least until your husband begins receiving his retirement benefits. You don’t need to tell Social Security that you want to claim spousal benefits unless you actually apply for them, and you can’t do that unless your spouse applies for his or her own benefits. do not apply for
And of course, if you were at least Full Retirement Age (FRA) at the time of your husband’s death, you may be eligible for 100% of his full benefit rate as a widow. You won’t get your husband’s full amount and your own full amount, though, only the higher of the two rates.
Your understanding is correct that if you begin receiving your retirement benefits prior to your FRA, you will not be eligible for the full 50% of your spouse’s Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) when you begin receiving spousal benefits. Any deduction for age that applies to your own benefit rate will continue as long as both you and your spouse are alive, even if you later become eligible for spousal benefits. best, larry
Credit: www.forbes.com /