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Should be easy questions on Social Security
Old 05-16-2016, 11:40 AM   #1
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Should be easy questions on Social Security

I am trying to study up on drawing social security. I think these should be easy questions to answer, but I am having trouble understanding the wording of online explanations of how a persons spousal benefit is determined. All the descriptions I have seen on this topic are in terms of "spouse" or "worker" and I am not exactly clear on which spouse or worker they are referring to.

I worked while my wife was mostly a stay at home mother, so my social security benefit will be a good bit larger than hers. So she should claim a benefit that is as much as one-half of my benefit.

Assume I claim at 62, and she waits until her full retirement age to claim. Does she get a full one half of my full retirement age benefit, or is her benefit reduced since I claimed early?

I believe I read somewhere that if I delay until age 70, she still only gets one-half of my full retirement age benefit, not one half of the age 70 amount. True?

Also, if I die before her, does my wife get my benefit as well as hers, or just my benefit. And for my benefit, is it the full retirement benefit, or the amount I was withdrawing when I died?

Thanks in advance for the responses.
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Old 05-16-2016, 11:43 AM   #2
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Assume I claim at 62, and she waits until her full retirement age to claim. Does she get a full one half of my full retirement age benefit, or is her benefit reduced since I claimed early?
No her spousal benefit (at her full retirement age) will be half of your (reduced) benefit.

If you take SS early at 62 and then she takes SS early at 62 she'll get a reduced benefit of your own reduced benefit. In other words she wont get half of your reduced benefit.

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I believe I read somewhere that if I delay until age 70, she still only gets one-half of my full retirement age benefit, not one half of the age 70 amount. True?
True. The maximum spousal benefit she'll get is half your benefit at full retirement age.

However, if you die first she can get a survivor benefit equal to whatever you received so long as she is at least her own full retirement age. So if you retire at 70 and get an increased benefit she'll get that larger amount (so long as she is at least her own full retirement age).


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Also, if I die before her, does my wife get my benefit as well as hers, or just my benefit. And for my benefit, is it the full retirement benefit, or the amount I was withdrawing when I died?
If you die she'll get the larger of her benefit or your benefit (so long as she is at least her own full retirement age). But not both her and your benefit. One or the other.
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Old 05-16-2016, 01:39 PM   #3
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You might find this website helpful. SSAnalyze - Bedrock Capital Management

We have a similar situation to you in that DW was a SAHM. In our case, she's 9 months older than me. I think our best strategy will be for DW to claim under her own work record at her FRA and for me to wait until 70 as longevity insurance given joint mortality. However, we might consider both claiming at our FRA, so she would get benefits based on her work record for 9 months and then 1/2 or my FRA benefit from when I file.

I view it that at anytime from 62 on I have the option to file if things get bad and investment results are poor.
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Old 05-16-2016, 01:45 PM   #4
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My impression if the worker takes SS early, that does not affect the spouse.
The factor that affects the spouse is when the spouse takes SS......so you don't have a double age factor, only one. https://www.ssa.gov/oact/quickcalc/spouse.html

This may be different if you are talking about survivor benefits.
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Old 05-17-2016, 03:33 AM   #5
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No her spousal benefit (at her full retirement age) will be half of your (reduced) benefit.

If you take SS early at 62 and then she takes SS early at 62 she'll get a reduced benefit of your own reduced benefit. In other words she wont get half of your reduced benefit.



True. The maximum spousal benefit she'll get is half your benefit at full retirement age.

However, if you die first she can get a survivor benefit equal to whatever you received so long as she is at least her own full retirement age. So if you retire at 70 and get an increased benefit she'll get that larger amount (so long as she is at least her own full retirement age).




If you die she'll get the larger of her benefit or your benefit (so long as she is at least her own full retirement age). But not both her and your benefit. One or the other.
a survivor benefit is a little more complex then that .

i am saying husband for clarity but it works the same in reverse too .

the wife gets either what the husband got , or if she filed earlier then fra special rules apply if the wife files before her fra too .

this avoids to much of a double cut if both are filing early .



if the husband filed at 62 and dies and the wife takes survivor at 60 there would typically be a cut of as much as 47% from the husbands full as he got a reduced benefit and now if the spouse files early she gets cut again so safeguards are in place to prevent such steep cuts .

so if the husband takes it earlier then his fra there is a multiplier that acts as a floor so you get the higher of the floor or your actual reduced benefit . so at 62 the lowest the wife would get cut is x.81 off the husbands full even if that spouse who died filed early .

at 60 the wife would get x.71 off the deceased full even if the deceased filed early .

other wise without the multipliers off full as a floor the surviving spouse would get cut by almost half if they filed at 60 so the floor sets a min .
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Old 05-17-2016, 01:05 PM   #6
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It should be a little less complicated, but somehow always gets confusing. A friend had been married for 30 years and then divorced. At 66 her FRA I encourage her to file a spousal benefit and let hers grow. Her spouse was deceased when she eventually filed her claim...so how much did she collect? A One half of his FRA benefit. B he claimed early so 1/2 of his actual benefit amount at his FRA. or C...the amount of the check he would be getting if he was still alive.? ...the correct answer was C....it turned from a spousal to a survivor benefit. Up until the day she got the deposit we were wondering how it would turn out. It seems a little easier to state it this way then to try throwing in all these % reductions for each person.
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Old 05-17-2016, 01:32 PM   #7
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No her spousal benefit (at her full retirement age) will be half of your (reduced) benefit. If you take SS early at 62 and then she takes SS early at 62 she'll get a reduced benefit of your own reduced benefit. In other words she wont get half of your reduced benefit. True. The maximum spousal benefit she'll get is half your benefit at full retirement age. However, if you die first she can get a survivor benefit equal to whatever you received so long as she is at least her own full retirement age. So if you retire at 70 and get an increased benefit she'll get that larger amount (so long as she is at least her own full retirement age). If you die she'll get the larger of her benefit or your benefit (so long as she is at least her own full retirement age). But not both her and your benefit. One or the other.
This is incorrect. As long as the spouse is FRA, she will get 50% of your PIA not reduced by any factor. Example, my DH claimed at 62. I claimed spousal once I reached FRA and receive 50% of his PIA, which is adjusted for cola's for each year since it was initially determined.
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Old 05-17-2016, 04:08 PM   #8
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you are correct , master had it wrong . a spousal benefit is always based on the full benefit amount of the spouse .

if the spouse has her own work record and files at 62 she only gets her own benefit . when the other spouse files , whether early or fra she gets an adder to her own early benefit.

in this cae they take what her full would have been if she waited and subtract it from 1/2 the other spouses full benefit . if there is a difference it gets added to the early benefit .

spousal is always off full .
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Old 05-17-2016, 04:17 PM   #9
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My wife isn't eligible for SS. If I die, can she receive a survivor benefit?
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Old 05-17-2016, 04:19 PM   #10
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earliest is 60. i think at 60 she gets which ever is higher . your benefit if you are collecting , or your fra benefit if not.

but since she is only 60 they take your fra benefit and i believe multiply it by x.71as a floor . so she gets the higher amount
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