Can I Receive Spousal Benefits Before Age 62 If I Have A Child In Care?

Category: 
Dec 17 2016 - 10:45am

I am 60 years old and my husband is 81 and is receiving SS. 6 years ago we adopted our grandson whose mother passed away. His fathers parental rights were taken away by the courts. Our adopted son is receiving SS benefits from my husband. I have heard that I am also eligible for child - in - care benefits as our adopted son is 9 years old. When I called SS they said child in care is for a deceased parent. That is not my understanding. Please comment. I assume also that I would not be eligible if I was still working. Correct? Thanks much

Hi,

It sounds like you have a better understanding of the Social Security rules than does the person you spoke with at Social Security.

Yes, since your adopted son is under age 16, as long as he is in your care you are apparently eligible for spousal benefits. If the Social Security office tells you differently, point out to them this section of their operations manual: https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0300202001, specifically the last bullet in section C.

However, there are a couple potential issues that could limit what you can receive in the way of benefits. First, your entitlement would almost certainly put your family above the maximum family benefit payable on your husband's record, so both your son's and your benefit rates would be lowered as a result of your entitlement. But, the total of the 2 benefits would likely be higher than the amount your son presently receives.

The second potential issue is the Social Security earnings test (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking2.html). If you earn more than $15720 this year, or $16920 next year, Social Security would need to withhold $1 of your benefits for each $2 that you earn in excess of the exempt amount. If you are able to draw any benefits in spite of your earnings, though, even if it's only a small amount, it would likely be advantageous for you to apply. Any benefits that you lose to the earnings test would eventually be repaid to your son, up to the full rate that he is due before any reduction for the family maximum.

Best, Jerry