If Your Clients Have Not Saved Enough For Retirement, Understanding Social Security's Spousal Benefits Options Might Help

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 06:32
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If Your Clients Have Not Saved Enough For Retirement, Understanding Social Security's Spousal Benefits Options Might Help

Tags: retirement planning | social security | US investing

Many Boomers have failed to save enough money to support the type of lifestyle they’d like to lead during retirement. And although Social Security doesn’t provide nearly the amount of security it used to, there are ways to maximize your clients’ benefits, especially if they are married.

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Spouses can’t claim each other’s Social Security benefits. But if they wait until they’re both 66 years old (current retirement age) to file for benefits, then there’s a strategy they can employ which will give them a bit of income now and maximize benefits for both a few years later.
 
Here’s the way it works. One spouse reaches the age of 66 and files to receive benefits but suspends actual collection of those benefits until he is age 70. His wife may claim a spousal benefit of half the husband’s full benefit.
 
So if the husband’s benefit is $3000 per month, she can receive $1500 per month without reducing the benefits he will receive. She can claim this benefit at age 62. If she chooses to do so, her benefit will be less than half of his—32% less, to be exact.
 
But if she also waits until she is 66, she can receive the full 50% of her husband’s benefit. If both wait until 70 to actually receive benefits (they both file and suspend), she can start receiving half of his monthly benefit at age 66, then they both can receive 32% more of their respective benefits per month at age 70.
 
So, if he files at age 66 and suspends receiving benefits until age 70, then she files at 66 and suspends receiving her benefits until age 70, she can still receive the $1500 per month. Then at age 70, they both will receive 32% more (benefits go up by 8% per year from age 66 to age 70) on their respective benefits.
 
This higher benefit level also serves as the basis from which all other benefits are calculated. This could be a retirement strategy your clients don’t know about, but should.

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