Social Security mistakes you should avoid

Posted by Denise Kovach, CFP®, AIF®

Mistiming a divorce. I know, if you are in the process of getting a divorce you don’t always have a choice of when things will become official. However, if you do there is an opportunity to monetarily benefit from, without affecting, your spouse’s SS benefit while leaving your own alone to continue to grow. SS rules say that an ex-spouse can claim benefits on the other ex-spouse’s work record as long as the marriage lasted at least 10 years. You also have access to survivor benefits, too. So if you are close to that 10 year mark and can endure, stay put.

Thinking delayed retirement credits apply to spousal benefits… because they don’t. Delayed Retirement Credits are earned on your SS benefit if you delay taking them. For example, if your FRA is 66, for every year thereafter until age 70 your benefits will grow 8% per year. But, that is on your own benefit, not spousal. Spousal benefits should be taken at FRA.

Not realizing that there is still a claiming strategy available if you qualify… If you turned 62 prior to the end of 2015 you are still eligible to file a Restricted Application which means at your FRA you can file for spousal benefits only and let your own continue to grow. Your spouse must have already have filed and suspended, a strategy that expired this past April, or be taking their own benefits.

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