What would my family receive in Social Security benefits if I start collecting now at age 63 vs. waiting to collect at my FRA?

Published: September 29, 2020

Full Question: Should I retire and pull benefits? This is probably a question you have been asked a million times – but some facts: I am 63 years and 7 months old (on the 22nd) and I am eligible to retire. My wife is 10 years younger than me. We both work for the state of WA…never been more thankful for state employment in my life. I am eligible to retire – 30+ years – my state pension if I retire is about 3,900/month. I just checked SSA retirement estimator and I would be pulling down about $2,075/mo for benefits…kicker is that my son is 17 and a Junior in High School and my daughter is 15 and a Sophomore in High School. What would our family receive (kids) receive if I retired and pulled my benefits (FRA benefits = $2,668 at 9/20/2020)…and what is the payback period compared to waiting to retire and 66.5 years (Aggregate SSA Benefits for me + kids benefits if I retire at 63.7 year vs Aggregate benefits if I start collecting at 66.5 years) – just curious – thanks again Martha – be talking to you soon!

Hi there!

This is a great question and one of the most complicated Social Security claiming age scenarios to analyze. Without knowing your exact Social Security earnings record it is not possible to answer your question in detail.

A recent similar software case I analyzed ran over 439,000 separate scenarios to calculate the maximized lifetime claiming ages for the family.

If you were to file and claim retirement benefits now, your dependents, including your wife and both children, would be eligible to collect benefits based on your earnings record.

Your children, who are both younger than age 18 or still in high school, qualify for minor child benefits and your wife qualifies for child-in-care spousal benefits even though she is younger than 62.

The family maximum benefit, FMB, rule would apply to the total amount your family would be allowed to collect. That total ranges generally from 150 to 180 percent of your primary insurance amount, PIA.

As you may know, your PIA is the amount you would collect if you waited to file until your full retirement age, FRA, of 66 and 6 months.

This means that the later you begin to collect your own retirement benefits, which increase every month you delay, the less of the FMB is left for your dependents to collect.

A final consideration is that if you are still working and begin to collect Social Security benefits, they and those being collected by your dependents, would be subject to the earnings test threshold amounts and some or all of your benefits may be withheld.

Your case illustrates the extraordinary complexities of the Social Security program and the very valuable assistance that a Registered Social Security Analyst can provide.

RSSAs are trained to understand these rules and provide you with a personalized analysis to answer your questions and give you peace of mind, knowing you are making the best claiming decisions for your family.

Take care,

Do you have a question about Social Security? Ask Martha your own question here.

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