Advanced Underwriting Consultants

Question of the Day – April 30

Ask the Experts!

Here’s the question of the day.

Question:  I have a client who is 66 and applying for Social Security retirement benefits.  Is the client eligible to apply for benefits based on her 65 year old ex-spouse’s record, and able to switch to her own benefit at age 70?

Answer:  Yes, if the conditions described below are met.

Here’s what the Social Security Administration says about retirement benefits for an ex-spouse:

If you are divorced, your ex-spouse can receive benefits based on your record (even if you have remarried) if:

  • Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer;
  • Your ex-spouse is unmarried;
  • Your ex-spouse is age 62 or older;
  • The benefit that your ex-spouse is entitled to receive based on his or her own work is less than the benefit he or she would receive based on your work; and
  • You are entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

If you have not applied for retirement benefits, but can qualify for them, your ex-spouse can receive benefits on your record if you have been divorced for at least two years.

Finally, here’s a key excerpt from the website about switching benefits later:

(If) your divorced spouse has reached full retirement age and is eligible for a spouse’s benefit and his or her own retirement benefit, he or she has a choice.

Your divorced spouse can choose to receive only the divorced spouse’s benefits when he or she applies online and delay receiving retirement benefits until a later date. If retirement benefits are delayed, a higher benefit may be received at a later date based on the effect of delayed retirement credits.

Have a question for the professionals at AUC?  Feel welcome to submit it by email.  We may post your question and the answer as the question of the day. 

Question of the Day – February 21

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The professionals at Advanced Underwriting Consultants (AUC) answer the tax and technical questions posed by producers.  Here’s the question of the day.

Question:  I am working with a married couple on their Social Security retirement planning.  The husband has already applied for retirement benefits.  The wife just turned 66, and is wondering whether she should start taking her own benefits based on her own work record?

Answer:  The decision about when to take retirement benefits from Social Security is highly complex, especially when both spouses have worked and qualify for benefits under their own records.

In the case described above, the wife can choose to apply for spousal benefits at age 66—and receive Social Security benefits based on her husband’s work record.  If she does that, she can keep accruing delayed retirement credits for her own work record until age 70—at which point she can switch to that benefit, if it is higher than her spousal benefit.

We strongly recommend that those approaching retirement consult with a financial professional to sort out their Social Security retirement benefit choices.

Have a question for the professionals at AUC?  Feel welcome to submit it by email.  We may post your question and the answer as the question of the day. 

Question of the Day – October 17

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Here’s the question of the day.

Question:  My client is receiving Social Security survivor benefits based on the work record of her late husband.  Can she get retirement benefits based on her own work record if they are higher?

Answer:  Generally, yes.

Here’s an excerpt from the Social Security website that confirms that a person receiving survivor benefits can switch to the person’s own Social Security retirement benefits later on:

If you receive benefits as a widow or widower or as a surviving divorced spouse, you can switch to your own retirement benefit as early as age 62. This assumes you are eligible for retirement benefits and your retirement rate is higher than your rate as a widow, widower or surviving divorced spouse.

In many cases, a widow or widower can begin receiving one benefit at a reduced rate and then, at full retirement age, switch to the other benefit at an unreduced rate.

Reminder: Full retirement age for retirement benefits may not match full retirement age for survivors benefits.

The client should check with Social Security directly to confirm the facts of her situation.

Have a question for the professionals at AUC?  Feel welcome to submit it by email.  We may post your question and the answer as the question of the day. 

Question of the Day – October 10

Ask the Experts!

Here’s the question of the day.

Question:  I have a client who is applying for Social Security retirement benefits on his own work record.  The client is divorced, and the client believes that his benefit would be higher based on his wife’s record.  The client is older than the ex-wife.  Is the client eligible to apply for benefits based on her record?

Answer:  Yes, if the ex-spouse is already old enough to qualify for retirement benefits.

Here’s what the Social Security Administration says about retirement benefits for an ex-spouse:

If you are divorced, your ex-spouse can receive benefits based on your record (even if you have remarried) if:

  • Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer;
  • Your ex-spouse is unmarried;
  • Your ex-spouse is age 62 or older;
  • The benefit that your ex-spouse is entitled to receive based on his or her own work is less than the benefit he or she would receive based on your work; and
  • You are entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

If you have not applied for retirement benefits, but can qualify for them, your ex-spouse can receive benefits on your record if you have been divorced for at least two years.

A divorced spouse is eligible to receive spousal Social Security retirement benefits based on the ex-spouse’s earnings record when the ex-spouse becomes eligible to receive benefits.

Here’s a web page from the Social Security Administration which describes the availability of the benefit and the method for applying:

http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/299/~/qualifying-for-divorced-spouse-benefits

Have a question for the professionals at AUC?  Feel welcome to submit it by email.  We may post your question and the answer as the question of the day.