Comments we receive from readers always state they enjoy our articles that have real-life situations included. So that is what this article is all about.
1. Rachel is age 65 and recently divorced for 18 months. She was married for 36 years. She wants to draw off her ex-husbands benefits but he wants to wait to draw at his maximum benefit amount of age 70 for his current wife. What options does Rachel have? She has to have been divorced for two years of more to become an independently entitled divorced spouse. Also, this is a requirement because her ex-husband is not drawing on his own benefit. Waiting just a short time until her Full Retirement Age will ensure her no reductions.
2. Lannie wants to draw at his Full Retirement age of 66.4 and his wife Susan wants to draw at age 62. There is a four-year age difference. They were interested to see if this is their best option. Lannie was firm on his filing date which we explained will lock in his Survivor Benefit amount. Susan’s benefit is less than ½ of Lannie’s so if she draws at age 62, not only will she reduce her benefit amount, but she will reduce the Spousal Boost she is entitled to as a result of being less than ½ of Lannie’s benefit. Not a good choice unless they absolutely need the money. Both in good health and have other income options from pension. By waiting until Full Retirement Age, her lifetime benefit will increase by almost $35,000.
3. Sam passed away leaving behind his wife Lisa and a 7-year-old son, Landon. Lisa heard about the child in care benefit available but does not know if she is qualified. Because Landon is unmarried and under the age of 18, he is eligible for his own benefits, and Lisa is eligible for child in care benefits until he reaches the age of 16. Lisa and Landon are both subject to the Annual Earnings Test which may offset of completely reduce these benefits.
4. Sid’s wife passed away several years ago. He is now 64 and did not realize that he could have begun receiving a widower benefit so wants to file an application back to her date of death, which is two years ago. He has been advised that there is a 6-month retroactive rule and unfortunately for him, the retroactive benefit does NOT apply because he is not Full Retirement Age.
5. Kristy’s ex-husband (they were divorced) passed away in January at age 62. Kristy is age 61 and wants to begin benefits whether her benefit or the survivor benefit. She is still working and earns $50,000 per year. Kristy is eligible for surviving divorced spousal benefit (married 10+ years and over the age of 60), but the Annual Earnings Test will probably withhold her entire benefit amount because her income is too high. The amount of the offset depends on the amount of eligible benefits.
6. Alex has been divorced for three years. He learned that his ex-wife was collecting benefits from his record while her benefit accrued Delayed Retirement Credits. He wanted to know if he could do the same and filed a Restricted Application on her record. Because he was born before January 1, 1954, he can do that. Also, since they have been divorced for more than two years, they are both called independently entitled divorced spouses, which means they can both receive the spousal benefit even if their ex-spouse is not receiving their own benefit.
These are just a few of the types of situations we see each day. As you can see, these situations all have individual twists and turns that make them unique to their own situation. No two situations are the same and advice in each instance gained them benefits they were not aware they were entitled to.