Social Security Analysis Produces Quick Windfall of $22,290
John & Jane
Aged 68 and 67
John & Jane wanted our help to create a retirement income plan to reduce taxes, maximize retirement income, and preserve and grow assets prudently.
As part of their plan, we provided analysis and advice on how to maximize social security benefit income.
- Jane had claimed Social Security six months prior to contacting us at her “full retirement age” of 67.
- John was still working, and they wanted to know the best time for him to claim benefits, plus any nuances they might be missing.
During the Social Security Analysis segment of our process, we discovered that the Smiths qualified for what is referred to as a “Restricted Application,” a little-known claiming strategy available to people born prior to 1954.
Here’s how the strategy works:
John, the higher-earning spouse who is still working at age 68, applies to receive the 50% spousal benefit WHILE HE’S WORKING! So he receives “spousal benefit” social security payments in addition to his regular income. Usually, we think of the lower-earning spouse as receiving the spousal benefit. But if both husband and wife qualify for Social Security benefits on their own earnings records, then either the wife or the husband can collect benefits based on the other’s earnings record. In this case, John will do so temporarily until he retires.
There are certain requirements to accomplish this. First, the individuals must have been born prior to 1954. Additionally, the lower-earning spouse, in this case Jane, must have already filed for benefits. Upon reaching age 70, John, the higher earning spouse, will switch to his maximum benefit—including the full delayed credits of 8% per year for waiting until maximum age of 70—while Jane will switch to the 50% spousal benefit of his number.
Meanwhile, for two years from age 68 to 70, John receives a spousal benefit, which the Smiths weren’t aware of.
Windfall of $22,290 of additional Social Security benefits for (2) years, then maximum payout throughout retirement
Jane’s PIA is $1.486.50. Jane filed for her benefit at age 67. John files for his spousal benefit at the same time and begins collecting $743 a month, half of Jane’s PIA. John will also receive 6 months of benefits retroactively in a single check from the SSA—in this case $4,458. The total increase in benefits over two years is $22,290.
When John turns 70, he switches to his maximum benefit, $4,369 monthly, and Jane adds her spousal benefit from John, to her existing monthly amount —an additional $138 monthly to $1624.50.
This has been such a great strategy that Congress considers it a loophole and is phasing out the option. However, if you were 62 or older at the end of 2015 – born before 1954 – you are still eligible to file a “restricted” application for spousal benefits when you turn full retirement age, pending the other factors mentioned above.
Social Security planning is a crucial component of effective retirement planning. Everyone MUST analyze the best strategy for claiming social security benefits, especially married couples.
We’ve seen scenarios in which the difference between two Social Security claiming strategies has translated into hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional benefit income for married couples over multiple decades in retirement.
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This is a case study and is for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance and results will vary. This case study does not constitute a recommendation as to the suitability of any investment for any person or persons having circumstances similar to those portrayed, and a financial advisor should be consulted. This case study does not represent actual clients but a hypothetical composite of various client experiences and issues. Any resemblance to actual people or situations is purely coincidental.