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Terminal illness and SS decision.
Old 09-15-2023, 06:55 AM   #1
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Terminal illness and SS decision.

My 66 year old husband was diagnosed with Glioblastoma a few weeks ago after suffering stroke like symptoms. He is in a rehab hospital at the moment after brain surgery last week to remove the two tumors. He expects to have radiation and chemotherapy but the median survival rate, even with surgery, radiation and chemo, is 14-16 months. As would be expected, we are devastated and reeling with shock with this diagnosis. We have been married 40 years.

We had planned on him taking Social Security at 70 as he was the older, more highly paid worker. I am 61, turning 62 in November and was planning on applying right at 62. My first check would be in January 2024.

It seems as though the right move for his SS would be to apply for it now? I tried plugging our info into Open Social Security and it seemed to indicate that was the best course of action. Is there any reason not to? Should we request the 6 month backdate? He turned 66 in April and is 66 and 5 months at the moment and has been retired 2 years.

I am on an ACA plan for my health insurance and we are living on savings to keep my premiums low. Applying for SS, especially backdated SS will increase my premiums from $60 per month to $600ish I think. His benefit would be in the $3100-$3250 range depending on month started and backdating application so I guess it would still be the right financial move? We are domiciled in FL so no state taxes and I donít think we will pay too much federal by applying now.

We donít particularly need SS to live on, our invested assets are over 3.3 million but we didnít get there by throwing money away so I want to continue to try to make the right financial decisions even though our entire life and financial plan for the future has been upended.

Your thoughts on our situation are appreciated, and, since I know this is a kind and empathetic group, I am thanking you in advance for your best wishes to us.
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Old 09-15-2023, 07:25 AM   #2
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I almost never give specific financial advice.........,....

ETA: I deleted my original financial comment after reading, and agreeing with, the other smarter replies.

So sorry for what you are dealing with regarding your husband's health, and my best wishes to you for the best possible outcome.
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Old 09-15-2023, 07:47 AM   #3
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Sorry to hear about your DH diagnosis. That's so unfortunate. All's I can say about that is, after having gone through a few "extended family members" terminal illnesses is, that quality of life needs to be balanced with quantity of life (IMO).

Regarding when to take SS, I'm bias (I always lean towards taking it ASAP) so I'll yield to those here that may have a more measured opinion in a case such as yours.
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Old 09-15-2023, 07:50 AM   #4
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Since you don't seem to need the income, you can maximize the SS check amount by waiting.


"If the deceased reached retirement age, the surviving spouse can receive whatever the deceased was entitled to in the month of their death."

Ithink you may have to wait until you reach FRA though. But you need to verify.



This is not directly from SSA.org, so, I would followup on the info with Social Security. I looked a little, but could not find the info on the SS site.


Here is where I got the quote.



https://www.thrivent.com/insights/so...urity-benefits




I'm so sorry this has happened to you two.
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Old 09-15-2023, 07:59 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Time2 View Post
Since you don't seem to need the income, you can maximize the SS check amount by waiting.


"If the deceased reached retirement age, the surviving spouse can receive whatever the deceased was entitled to in the month of their death."

Ithink you may have to wait until you reach FRA though. But you need to verify.



This is not directly from SSA.org, so, I would followup on the info with Social Security. I looked a little, but could not find the info on the SS site.


Here is where I got the quote.



https://www.thrivent.com/insights/so...urity-benefits




I'm so sorry this has happened to you two.

Is there an Financial Planner (hourly fee) that can look at your particular situation? You will be juggling more than just SS. We can certainly offer our opinions, but a FP can look through your exact situation (using your numbers.) I don't want to think too far ahead, but tax issues for a single person will not be a trivial issue. I don't really have a good idea on this - other than getting some help, using all your real numbers.


May God bless you at this stressful time. May He give your husband courage and ease his transition. Feel free to lean on us.
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Old 09-15-2023, 08:10 AM   #6
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So sorry you are going through this.

Based on what you have shared, if we were in that situation (and DW and I have discussed this), we would wait as long as possible because:
1) You do not need it now.
2) Once you start taking it, your health expenses will increase significantly. Probably not something that your assets could not handle, but why not delay this impact for as long as possible.
30 From a long term standpoint, waiting maximizes your annual payment.

But there are emotional factors as well. To have this diagnosis, knowing that you have this amount that might not be enjoyed as a couple in the long run, might bring about a feeling of "I want to see some of that money now". One thing to consider: If he turned 66 this year, his birth is 1957, and his FRA is 66 years 6 months. So at least wait a month for him to reach FRA and them see, if taken after that what the benefits would be.
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Old 09-15-2023, 08:18 AM   #7
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Sorry for your situation

I think that your original approach is still good:
you apply at 62 and wait for his application until a bit later (not neccesarily waiting until 70; e.g. if he goes down in a year apply then)
Then you would recieve your benefit from 62 to your FRA. At FRA you would be entitled to the full amount of whatever he would/was receiving when he passed.
If he does recover long enough for full age 70 benefits that's what you as surviving spouse could get if he applies earlier than 70 then those are the max benefits you could recieve. Note that you would only be recieving your age 62 benefit and not any bump (assuming your PIA is less than half of his) unless he applied for his. Given what you stated... him waiting until later is almost certainly the best (at least for SS).
see: https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/survivors/ifyou.html#h6


The other question is does he have a 401k/IRA ?
If there's expected to be significant costs for medical it might be more prudent to take funds from them if the medical costs exceed the threshhold (10%) and are above the std deduction after adding in other deductions.
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Old 09-15-2023, 08:26 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by jollystomper View Post
So sorry you are going through this.

Based on what you have shared, if we were in that situation (and DW and I have discussed this), we would wait as long as possible .
I did want to clarify this. My "wait" comment was for him taking SS. For you, you should take it when you want, and 62 is fine My DW took hers a few months after see turned 62, as this was deemed the optimal strategy via more than one source, for our situation.
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Old 09-15-2023, 08:31 AM   #9
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I am sorry for what you and your DH are going through.

I am in jollystomper's camp here. If I were in that situation, I would not have DH file but let his benefit grow as much as possible and switch over to survivor benefits at my full retirement age. (We have discussed, that if I go first, he file under my survivor benefit, and let his grow until 70). I would try to maximize the (eventual) size of your lifetime monthly income. The reason being is although you have a nice nest egg, it's less stressful to have a larger source of Cola'd income (which acts like a pension) hitting your bank account every month. You don't have to "manage it" and maybe when you are 80 you won't want to. I did have a friend who claimed at age 70 - and took the six month look back provision (which cuts down the amount of the monthly check slightly) and then squawked like a chicken when tax time came around.

I am going of to the SS website to check on something - will check this thread later to see if Miss Molly (or other SS maven) shows up.

Edit - link to website regarding survivor's benefits

https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/survivo...rchartred.html
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Old 09-15-2023, 08:32 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by ImaCheesehead View Post
We donít particularly need SS to live on, our invested assets are over 3.3 million but we didnít get there by throwing money away so I want to continue to try to make the right financial decisions even though our entire life and financial plan for the future has been upended.
I am so sorry you and your husband are going through this.

My advice would be to NOT do anything rash/immediately while you are reeling from this emotional roller coaster.

You have the funds to ride this out. So, there is no rush on SS. Focus on you (stay strong!) and hubby.

Does your investment firm(s) have specialists who handle this type situation routinely? I know Fidelity does. Get on the phone with your assigned financial professional/investment firm and find out. If they have this resource, I'm certain they can help you sort out a path forward.

Good luck and God bless you!
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Old 09-15-2023, 08:48 AM   #11
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I'm wishing you and your DH all the peace you can find in the days to come. To be brutally honest, with everything you have going on and including the ACA issue, your best option ATM is to do nothing. Just keep SS on the back burner. Too many emotions involved right now.



I'm sure you have read more then enough about this type of cancer, it will take all the emotion and energy you both have, your lives will be undergoing many changes.
Any time you two want to devote to talking about money, might be better spent making sure you both understand what money is available personally and the best way to deploy it if the worst happens.



if you have any desire to share your money facts get them together, post them here in a new thread and ask for any tips or advice. This might give you more clarity about SS, once again don't decide anything in a hurry that's not prudent at this point.
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Old 09-15-2023, 08:57 AM   #12
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I'm very sorry about your news.

You could run scenarios at opensocialsecurity.com, and check the box for special situations at the top. Then check the Mortality box, and under his information instead of using the SS mortality table choose the option that lets you input his age at death.

I *think* its going to suggest that he delay, to increase your benefit later, and to have you start taking at 62 and then switch over to his benefit later. I'm not sure if that would be your FRA or when he passes. Sorry, I'm not up on all the rules for married people and special situations like this but I believe that tool handles it.
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Old 09-15-2023, 10:42 AM   #13
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I am so sorry you and DH are experiencing this health emergency.
My friend suffered the same cancer and lived for 5 years with specialty care, so you never know.

As for finances, a one time fee only consult might be a good investment, along with checking the opensocialsecurity website.

Our thoughts are with you and your family as you navigate this.
May you find some peace and some joy in the time together.
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Old 09-15-2023, 08:54 PM   #14
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Thank you all, and as usual, the collective wisdom is correct.

I went back to Open Social Security and re-ran the numbers and it does still tell me to file for mine at 62 and survivor at my survivor FRA which is 66 and 10 months for those born in 1961, and he does not file at all. I would have sworn it said to start now for him, but I clearly did not enter something correctly the first time. I am so glad I asked instead of assuming I did it right. Additionally, further research shows that you can only do the 6 month back date after reaching FRA which doesnít happen for DH til next month.

Thanks to all for advice and best wishes. As far as SS goes it seems the best course is to do nothing but I am thinking I am going to be asking for more advice as we go down this long road.
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Old 09-15-2023, 09:20 PM   #15
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Ima, best wishes to you and your husband as you navigate this time.
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Old 09-15-2023, 10:08 PM   #16
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FRA is 66 and 10 months for those born in 1959. It is 67 years for all born after 1959.
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Old 09-16-2023, 12:26 AM   #17
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ImaCheesehead,
I agree with the advice to take yours at 62 and wait for his, so long as you don't need his check.

But it will help to lay out more info here or for an advisor. Other investment accounts are important to know about.

Many here have encountered such cancer events. It may help you to write down your thoughts and advice given in a journal.

I also have prepared a few pages about my demise, and what I'd like to happen. Thinking through these things has its own rewards, and laying down guidance on paper, with periodic reviews, leaves me peaceful.
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Old 09-16-2023, 07:04 AM   #18
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FRA is 66 and 10 months for those born in 1959. It is 67 years for all born after 1959.
Survivor FRA is slightly different, strangely enough.
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Old 09-16-2023, 07:30 AM   #19
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I'm wishing you and your DH all the peace you can find in the days to come. To be brutally honest, with everything you have going on and including the ACA issue, your best option ATM is to do nothing. Just keep SS on the back burner. Too many emotions involved right now.



I'm sure you have read more then enough about this type of cancer, it will take all the emotion and energy you both have, your lives will be undergoing many changes.
Any time you two want to devote to talking about money, might be better spent making sure you both understand what money is available personally and the best way to deploy it if the worst happens.




if you have any desire to share your money facts get them together, post them here in a new thread and ask for any tips or advice. This might give you more clarity about SS, once again don't decide anything in a hurry that's not prudent at this point.
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Old 09-16-2023, 07:47 AM   #20
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Survivor FRA is slightly different, strangely enough.
Ah, I was wondering about that!

To those saying set this aside for now, sometimes this is how people deal with situations like this. With so much you aren't in control of, making a decision on something you do control can be helpful and it's an easy thing to check off. Besides, you are looking at this logically, not emotionally, which is good.
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