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SS strategy... is this doable?
Old 09-03-2012, 09:44 AM   #1
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SS strategy... is this doable?

Dh & I are now both retired, both 65 & both receiving pensions, no SS yet. I turn 66 in April, he in July, 2013. We plan to hold off on my (larger) SS benefit until age 70.

Here is our "if possible" plan for next year as we both reach our full retirement age (FRA) of 66:
  • Step 1: I file and suspend SS benefits for April; DH files for 1/2 my benefit to begin April.
  • Step 2: A couple of months later, he files to begin his own full SS for July; I file for 1/2 his benefit to begin July & lasting hopefully until I am 70.

We'd originally only thought about doing Step 2, but then it occurred to me that we could get an extra ~ $3k by doing Step 1 first (for April, May, June)... IF that is possible & doesn't foul up Step 2. Is there a limit on how many times one can file/change in a year, or is this too much paperwork or hassle with the SS office to make it worthwhile?

I am not confident of the answer I would get from local SS office, who for example told me that neither of us could draw the other's SS as we each have our own. And the ss.gov web site says: If you are eligible for both your own retirement benefit and for benefits as a spouse, we will always pay you benefits based on your record first. If your benefit as a spouse is higher than your retirement benefit, you will receive a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse's benefits. I can't seem to find anything written about an option to limit the spousal benefit to 1/2 of the other spouse's benefit (as opposed to a "combination" benefit).

So I thought I would ask the knowledgeable folks here, if our plan is in fact doable, then I would push for the "in the know" person @ SS early next year.
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Old 09-03-2012, 09:53 AM   #2
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prior to FRA if you file you get your own.









prior to FRA you get your own. you only have the option of getting 1/2 spousal benefit or your own at FRA.


believe me I have researched this carefully looking for an early loophole.
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Old 09-03-2012, 01:45 PM   #3
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then I would push for the "in the know" person @ SS early next year.
This was the tricky part for me. I got very bad (incorrect advice) info from the local folks at SSA. Since I had researched it, I had to go back and force them to see it my way and eventually have it turn out in our favor.
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Old 09-03-2012, 04:12 PM   #4
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Sure wish this was a little clearer. I'm just now looking at SS benefit options for me and DW.

I'll retire this year at 56. The calc site for SS states, if I don't work any more, I'll get $1700 at 62, $2300 at FRA and $3100 at 70. My wife will get $500 at 62. If I understand this right, what I am reading here, my wife will get 1/2 MY amount? But when?

Let's say I take SS at 62 at $1700. My wife could take her $500 and SS will automatically bump up the difference to 1/2 my $1700 for her spouse rate.

But lets say I take SS at 62 at $1700 a month and DW doesn't take any SS until her FRA. She would then get 1/2 of $2300. (1/2 my FRA if I had waited until then to get my SS draws).

Am I understanding this right?
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Old 09-03-2012, 05:12 PM   #5
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i think she'll get 1/2 your 62 amount
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Old 09-03-2012, 06:57 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bram View Post
Dh & I are now both retired, both 65 & both receiving pensions, no SS yet. I turn 66 in April, he in July, 2013. We plan to hold off on my (larger) SS benefit until age 70.

Here is our "if possible" plan for next year as we both reach our full retirement age (FRA) of 66:
  • Step 1: I file and suspend SS benefits for April; DH files for 1/2 my benefit to begin April.
  • Step 2: A couple of months later, he files to begin his own full SS for July; I file for 1/2 his benefit to begin July & lasting hopefully until I am 70.

We'd originally only thought about doing Step 2, but then it occurred to me that we could get an extra ~ $3k by doing Step 1 first (for April, May, June)... IF that is possible & doesn't foul up Step 2. Is there a limit on how many times one can file/change in a year, or is this too much paperwork or hassle with the SS office to make it worthwhile?

I am not confident of the answer I would get from local SS office, who for example told me that neither of us could draw the other's SS as we each have our own. And the ss.gov web site says: If you are eligible for both your own retirement benefit and for benefits as a spouse, we will always pay you benefits based on your record first. If your benefit as a spouse is higher than your retirement benefit, you will receive a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse's benefits. I can't seem to find anything written about an option to limit the spousal benefit to 1/2 of the other spouse's benefit (as opposed to a "combination" benefit).

So I thought I would ask the knowledgeable folks here, if our plan is in fact doable, then I would push for the "in the know" person @ SS early next year.
I'm further away from filing than you are but if I were in your shoes I would talk with socialsecuritysolutions.com. It will cost you a few bucks but I would think it would be worth it to get expert advice given the amounts involved and the problems if you don't file the right way.
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Old 09-03-2012, 10:27 PM   #7
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you can also ask at bogleheads.org and look for a response from sscritic.
If you're still nervous, you can ask him for a reference link.
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Old 09-03-2012, 11:56 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by skipro3 View Post
Sure wish this was a little clearer. I'm just now looking at SS benefit options for me and DW.

I'll retire this year at 56. The calc site for SS states, if I don't work any more, I'll get $1700 at 62, $2300 at FRA and $3100 at 70. My wife will get $500 at 62. If I understand this right, what I am reading here, my wife will get 1/2 MY amount? But when?

Let's say I take SS at 62 at $1700. My wife could take her $500 and SS will automatically bump up the difference to 1/2 my $1700 for her spouse rate.

But lets say I take SS at 62 at $1700 a month and DW doesn't take any SS until her FRA. She would then get 1/2 of $2300. (1/2 my FRA if I had waited until then to get my SS draws).

Am I understanding this right?
Here's a calculator to figure out spousal benefits
About.com: http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/quickcalc/spouse.html


she would get 1/2 of your FRA benefit (PIA) if she waited until her FRA.
If she takes it earlier, the amount is derated by her own age factor as determined by the calculator. The factor is 1.0 at her FRA so she would get 1/2 of 2300 if she waited. She is not penalized if you take it early, only if she does. Best to confirm w/ sscritic at bogleheads.org.
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Old 09-04-2012, 07:47 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by kaneohe View Post
Here's a calculator to figure out spousal benefits
About.com: http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/quickcalc/spouse.html


she would get 1/2 of your FRA benefit (PIA) if she waited until her FRA.
If she takes it earlier, the amount is derated by her own age factor as determined by the calculator. The factor is 1.0 at her FRA so she would get 1/2 of 2300 if she waited. She is not penalized if you take it early, only if she does. Best to confirm w/ sscritic at bogleheads.org.


That is exactly what I needed to find out. THANKS!!
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Old 09-05-2012, 10:20 AM   #10
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Thanks for the responses. I've registered @ Bogleheads & posed the question there also.
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