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Confused about Social Security – how does spousal benefits, claim strategies and death and divorce affect your monthly income?


Social Security benefits depend on many factors – salary, claim age, if a spouse has a higher interest. Because life is often not so simple, there can be other situations that cause individuals who are deciding when to receive Social Security, such as divorce, illness, or death of a loved one that causes individuals. more confusing.

MarketWatch’s Help me retire The sections typically answer each reader question, but many readers have had short and specific questions about their Social Security eligibility and potential benefits. As is often the case with questions about Social Security, the answer depends on many variables. Diane Wilson, founding partner of My social security analyst.

MarketWatch spoke to financial experts about the requirement strategies and rules surrounding monthly benefits.

See: I’m 60 years old, my spouse 45 years old – can i retire if our costs are $ 12,000 a month?

Question: I am 75 years old and started getting Social Security benefits at age 63. My wife is 77 years old and also started receiving benefits at age 63. During our working years, my income is basically higher she should have my Social Security benefits more than twice her. Can she get my half Social Security (spouse) benefit?

Answer: Marital benefits can be complex. Technically, she can claim Social Security for excess spouse benefits, which could potentially increase her payout, but it may not be half as much. your interests. She claimed her Social Security benefits earlier than her Full Retirement Age (FRA), which, like you, means they have been reduced to as they are.

Laurence Kotlikoff, professor of economics at Boston University and president of Economic Security Planning, a software company, said. She should call and ask if she qualifies for the spousal allowance over payment.


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Question: I plan to retire at 63 and my wife 62, just a few more years for both of us. My expected benefit is $ 2,047 a month and that of my wife is $ 1,232. Thankfully, we also have other forms of income, ie the 401 (k) and retirement county we have drawn from. The question I ask and if I get it right – when I die, my wife’s benefits will increase proportionally to my distribution of $ 2,047 a month, but during this increase, she loses her share. and thus is actually loss of income, because between the two of us our Social Security is $ 3,279. With my death, she will only receive $ 2,047. On the other hand, it was really worse for me when my wife died, because her interests were less than mine so I got nothing more. Am I correct to understand how this works?

Answer: Yes and no. If you have to die first, your wife will keep to her benefits but a step up in what she gets. If she dies first, you won’t get any extra benefits.

Mike Piper, author of “Social Security Made Simple” and its creator will make a difference in those numbers. Open social security, a calculator to help users strategize their Social Security claims. If you apply much earlier than your FRA, both your and her spouse’s interests will be affected. When you die, Kotlikoff says, it can affect computations as well. “The widowhood area is the most complicated,” he said. Kotlikoff’s company creates financial planning programs, incl Maximize my social security, for users to learn about various variables, such as claimed age and mortality, to determine the amount of possible benefit.

Here are some rules though. If you apply for benefits before the Full Retirement Age and she is applying for widow’s benefit at Full Retirement Age, then she will be entitled to more than what you are currently receiving or 82.5% more with what you’ll get at the FRA, Wilson said. If she is on FRA when she applies for these widow benefits, there are three amounts to be determined – the amount you receive, 82.5% of your FRA or the widow’s benefit. be reduced.

Now if you apply for benefits at full retirement age (that is, defer your claim, as per your question), and she is of age FRA or older when applying for benefits widow, she will get what you get or what you should get when you pass. If she was in her FRA at the time, she would receive a benefit reduction based on the number of months before her FRA when she claimed a widow’s benefits, Wilson said. “In this case, it might be beneficial to receive her benefits until she is FRA then move on to widows’ benefits.”

Also see: I am a 57 year old nurse with no retirement savings and I want to retire within seven years. What can I do?

Question: I will be 67 years old next February. I want to retire at that time. My husband filed for divorce more than 20 years ago and remarried. I never remarried. My ex-husband will be 64 years old in June. Can I claim a portion of his Social Security whenever he retires, even if I retire before he retires?

Answer: There are several eligibility requirements for Social Security benefits when your spouse has divorced and has not remarried: you must have been married for 10 years, he must be 62 or older and if he is not already in love. to ask for your rights, you must have been divorced for at least two years. His remarriage does not affect your ability to claim his rights.

If you check all of these boxes, you’ll get half of the primary insurance premium (PIA), which is in his interest at full retirement age, Piper said.

But remember, there are a few more rules. If you were born after January 1, 1954, you must apply for your own Social Security benefits when you ask for them. You may be able to get some ex-spouse benefits if your primary coverage (what you get at the FRA) is less than half your ex-spouse’s benefits in full retirement. Your case is unique because you will be filing at age 67, which makes your benefits higher than what you would have at Full Retirement Age, Wilson said. The Social Security Administration will use that money in lieu of your benefits at the FRA, which means you’ll get a benefit that’s more than half of your ex-husband, she said.

This is how Social Security break benefits for divorcees.

Question: I will retire at the end of this year at 65 years and 10.5 months. I am wondering if occasional work during retirement will reduce my Social Security benefits. I plan to wait to claim Social Security benefits until age 70. My average taxed income over the past 20 years was $ 107,000 and my average over the past 15 years was $ 51,000. If I sometimes work for my employer as a temporary contractor or contractor during my retirement, and say making $ 10,000 a year in two or three years, that does Reduce my benefits or have no effect?

Answer: While low incomes may affect your entitlements to private pensions, they will never decrease your Social Security benefits, Piper said. The Social Security Administration looks at the highest income in 35 years, so what you earned in the most recent years will only affect your benefits if it is higher than the income of one in 35 years every year. that head. You will also get more than your primary insurance amount by delaying your benefits until age 70, which is always a good addition to your monthly income.

Have questions about your retirement savings? Email us at the address [email protected]

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