Retirement

Social Security-Know Benefits Available To You And When

  • Worker Benefit – this is your own personal benefit. You are always paid your own benefit first regardless of what benefit you are entitled to. The earliest you can apply is 62. If you apply before your full retirement age the benefit will be reduced. It is the only benefit that accrues delayed retirement credits. The annual earnings limitation applies until you reach your full retirement age. The Windfall Elimination Provision applies if you have another government pension. You can voluntarily suspend your worker benefit at full retirement age. Finally, there is no good reason to wait past 70 to collect this benefit.
  • Spousal Benefitthis benefit is applicable to a spouse if the other spouse is receiving their own Social Security benefit. The maximum spousal benefit is equal to 50% of your spouse’s Primary Insurance Amount at your own full retirement age. If you apply before your full retirement age the benefit will be reduced. To receive this benefit, the spousal benefit must be greater than your own worker benefit, you need to married at least 1 year, and both you and your spouse must be at least 62. You must apply for this benefit as it does not start automatically. Both spouses cannot be receiving a spousal benefit at the same time. The annual earnings limitation applies before your full retirement age. If you have another government pension, the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset will apply. There is no advantage to be gained by deferring collection of this benefit past your full retirement age.
  • Divorced-Spousal BenefitThis benefit is basically the same as a current spouse. The maximum spousal benefit is equal to 50% of your ex-spouse’s Primary Insurance Amount at your own full retirement age. To qualify for this benefit, you need to be single, both at least 62, must have been married for 10 or more years and the ex-spousal benefit must be greater than your own worker benefit if you have one. There are two categories of divorced spouse benefits. If you are divorced less than two years, to qualify for benefits your ex-spouse must be receiving benefits. If you are divorced more than two years, you are considered “independently entitled,” your ex-spouse does not need to be receiving benefits but needs to be eligible to claim benefits. If you remarry, you cannot collect benefits from any ex-spouse. If you are divorced from more than one spouse, you can claim benefits from the highest spouse. And finally, a divorced spousal benefit paid to an ex-spouse does not affect benefits available to a current spouse. The annual earnings limitation applies before your full retirement age. If you have another government pension, the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset will apply. There is no advantage to be gained by deferring collection past your full retirement age.
  • Children’s Benefit This benefit is paid to a child’s representative for children up to age 18, 19 if still in high school, or disabled if disabled before 22. One parent needs to be receiving benefits. The benefit is equal to 50% of the workers full retirement age benefit even if the parent filed before their own full retirement age. There is no reduction for age. This benefit does not affect the parents’ benefit. The annual earnings test will apply to the child if they work. This may be a situation to consider filing early pending on the child’s/children’s age.
  • Child in Care BenefitThis benefit is paid to a spouse who is not at least 62 and not yet eligible for benefits. Some consider it a spousal benefit.
  • Survivor Benefit This benefit is paid to a spouse, ex-spouse, and young children. To qualify for this benefit the survivor needs to be 60 and not married, or 50 if disabled. You need to be married at least 9 months except in the case of an accident. If you apply before your full retirement age the benefit will be reduced. The annual earnings limitation also applies. If you have another government pension, the Government Pension Offset will apply, the Windfall Elimination Provision does not.
  • If your deceased spouse HAS NOT FILED for benefits and passed away BEFORE FULL RETIREMENT AGE, you are entitled to receive the deceased’s full retirement age benefit.
  • If your deceased spouse HAS NOT FILED for benefits and passed away AFTER FULL RETIREMENT AGE, you are entitled to receive the deceased’s benefit as if they filed on the date of death
  • If your deceased spouse DID FILE for benefits BEFORE FULL RETIREMENT AGE, you are entitled to receive what your spouse was receiving or 82.5% of your deceased spouse’s full retirement age benefit.
  • If your deceased spouse DID FILE for benefits ON OR AFTER FULL RETIREMENT AGE, you are entitled to receive what the deceased was receiving at the date of death.
  • If you remarry before age 60, you cannot receive a survivor benefit.
  • If you remarry after age 60, you will still be eligible for the survivor benefit.
  • Eligible children under 16 can also receive a survivor benefit, worth up to 75% of the deceased’s benefit.
  • There is NO advantage to waiting to start collecting survivor benefits after you reach full retirement age
  • You can choose to claim survivor benefit and switch to your own worker benefit later if advantageous.
  • Any time there is a survivor benefit involved, you should always consider taking one of the two benefits as soon as possible
  • An ex-spouse can collect a survivor benefit if married 10 years
  • There is a one-time death benefit of $255 available.

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