T & A
Providing for my wife who has a limited working career is paramount for inflation adjusted SS benefits, so maximization of SS along with survivor benefits is critical. The predominant thinking (other than taking SS as soon as possible) is for the lower earning spouse to attain Spousal payments on the higher earning spouses record after the higher earner applies for and suspends their SS benefits (the higher earner – me - is older by 4 months). This works well, but for us, the following will work even better. I plan on having my wife apply for her SS benefits at 66. Since I haven’t applied for benefits, she is not eligible for Spousal payments. Her SS benefits will be about $10,000 a year. I will then apply for Spousal benefits, ONLY, on my wife’s record and receive about $5,000 a year for a total of $15,000 a year until we reach 70 years old. At that time, I will apply for my own SS benefits and receive the increased amount for the delay in filing of around $37,000. My wife will continue receiving her regular benefits of $10,000 plus some Spousal payment for life of about $4,000. Our total will be about $51,000 per year for the rest of our lives. Her survivor benefit will be about $37,000, adjusted for inflation. Applying the other way; I apply and suspend at 66 while she applies for both SS and Spousal, provides about $13,000 a year for the rest of my wife’s life. I would receive about $37,000 a year from age 70 on. My wife would still receive a survivor benefit of about $37,000. The difference is about $2,000 a year for 4 years (66-70), then $1,000 a year for the rest of our lives. This is for doing nothing more than applying at the right times in the correct manner for our situation. Everyone’s situation is different and that’s why there are so many alternatives. With alternatives comes complexity. With SS being such an important source for our retirement years, I feel very strongly about using every source possible in determining our preferred path. Just remember to verify everything with the SS department.