Joseph Yocavitch
LUTCF®, CLTC®

Social Security Retirement Benefits for Married Couples

The million-dollar question? When should we begin collecting our benefits? Unfortunately, many married couples will struggle to answer this question, acting without realizing if it’s the right time. However, with planning and expert advice from their trusted adviser couples may position themselves to make an informed decision rather than guessing. Many Americans rely on Social Security as a main source of income during their retirement. Therefore, it is critical for advisers to understand the fundamentals of this system in order to offer valuable insight. How are benefit amounts determined? First, an individual’s primary insurance amount (PIA) is calculated based on their earnings record. This is the amount one would receive if he or she began collecting benefits at his or her normal retirement age and varies depending on date of birth. An individual may generally elect to begin benefits as early as age 62, collecting a permanently reduced benefit. Spouses are eligible to collect the greater of their own calculated individual benefit or up to half of their spouse’s PIA, not including any DRC (delayed retirement credits) from their spouse’s deferral beyond NRA (normal retirement age) Spouses may begin collecting a reduced spousal benefit as early as age 62. Surviving spouses may collect the greater of their own calculated benefit or their deceased spouse’s benefit, including any DRC. NRA rules apply to survivor benefits in a similar fashion to spousal benefits. Qualified widows and widowers may generally begin collecting reduced survivor benefits as early as age 60. If the survivor is entitled to benefits based on their own record, they may switch from collecting survivor benefits to their own benefits as early as age 62. Once collect¬ing, the amount of benefits received is directly tied to the length of one’s life. Unfortunately, life expectancy is nearly impossible to predict, there are other considerations to be made in deciding when to collect benefits. Among these considerations are taxability of benefits and potential withholding of benefits. Before choosing your benefits, you owe it to yourself to make certain you choose correctly. It will make a huge impact on your lifestyle. Advisers need to consider Social Security as part of a client’s overall retirement plan, managing the taxability of benefits where possible, among other considerations. https://www.ssa.gov

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