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Another dumb Social Security question
Old 05-29-2017, 01:56 PM   #1
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Another dumb Social Security question

So, DW is 8 yrs older than DH.
DW's SS at 70 is $1250
DH's SS at 70 is $3100 (8 yrs after DW starts...)

Does DW get $1250 until DH starts taking SS, and then does DW go up to half of DH's amount ($1550)? Or is there a better strategy than both waiting to 70?
(Assume life expectancy is >80 for both, hopefully )
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Old 05-29-2017, 02:53 PM   #2
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If DH is reasonably sure he can hold out until 70, DW may not have reason to wait beyond full retirement age of 66-67, as half of DH's Social Security is higher than hers. I believe this would provide her that higher figure when DH retires.

I'm sure someone here is more familiar than I am and can confirm.
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Old 05-29-2017, 04:03 PM   #3
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1. The spousal benefit is 1/2 of the higher Full Retirement Age (FRA) benefit, not the age 70 amount. So it will be less than $1550/mo.
2. When the DH starts taking SS, then the spouse can file for the spousal benefit. In this case, the spousal benefit should be higher.
3. Based on my assumptions of their current ages and the SSAnalyze calculator, it looks like the best combo would be for the older spouse to begin at her FRA and the younger spouse to begin at his FRA or one year later.

Here is the link I have for the SSAnalyze calculator.
SSAnalyze - Bedrock Capital Management

Hope this helps.
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Old 05-29-2017, 05:31 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies and the link. Can't quite wrap my brain around how to use that calculator yet though. It wouldn't let me put in $ ests as far as I could tell, but I'm sure it's user error.

I did find this article: Social Security Strategies for Married Couples
It says the higher earner (DH) can "File and Suspend" when he gets to FRA, so that he can then hold off for the 70 age level and that this would then allow DW to get bumped up to 1/2 of DH's Full Retirement when she hits 74yo.

Interestingly, 1/2 of DH's FRA $ is only $30/yr less than DW's 70yo level, so... Assuming "File and Suspend" is still allowed (the article is a few years old ~2015), I think the biggest return would be for DW to file at 62, get ~$710/month until DH hits 67, and then she gets bumped to $1250, he suspends and then gets full amount ~$3100 at 70.

The 3 scenarios for DW until DH reaches 66+10mos (when DW reaches 74) would be:
a) Take early at 62 = $111,000 (~$710/mo for 13 yrs)
b) Take at 66+10mos (until 74) = $96,000 (~1,000/mo for 8 yrs)
c) Take at 70 (until 74) = $75,000 (~1,250/mo for 5 yrs)
74-on would be ~$15k/yr, only $30/yr less than her 70yo rate.

Whew. I hope that's right! Sorry for the long post.
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Old 05-30-2017, 05:17 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ExitLeft View Post
Assuming "File and Suspend" is still allowed
It isn't.
That option went away last year.
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Old 05-30-2017, 08:01 AM   #6
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Sorry for my stupidity. I guess "confused about dryer sheets" is an apt description... Thanks for the calculator, I understand it now...
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Old 05-30-2017, 08:09 AM   #7
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Not stupid at all. Social Security is one of the most confusing programs ever created. Everyone struggles to understand it.
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Old 05-30-2017, 08:15 AM   #8
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From what you wrote, I'm guessing that it will recommend that DW file for her own benefits first (probably at her FRA) and then when DH file at his FRA or at 70 that she will get a bump up if the benefits based on her own work record are less than 50% of DH's benefit.
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Old 05-30-2017, 10:52 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
From what you wrote, I'm guessing that it will recommend that DW file for her own benefits first (probably at her FRA) and then when DH file at his FRA or at 70 that she will get a bump up if the benefits based on her own work record are less than 50% of DH's benefit.
That's exactly how it played out. What I also hadn't realized was that if DW starts at 62, she only gets 38.34% of DH's FRA when he starts taking at 70, versus the full 50% if she'd waited until 67.
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