How Can We Best Maximize Our Benefits?

Jan 22 2017 - 8:15am

Hi Larry, thank you for helping all of us folk with SSI questions. That is very, very kind of you. Anyway, I am 55 yrs young lady and I am married, my husband is 57 and works full time. I became disabled in 2010, and I started receiving SSDI IN 2011, and would like to know what I should to maximize my future income. Because we have no savings left as it mostly went to doctor and hospital bills, not to mention a trip to California for brain surgery at Stanford. We stayed there for 5 weeks. Myself, husband and son. Sadly, I don't believe I will ever go back to work. We don't have stocks or bonds and as I mentioned earlier virtually no savings now. So could you please recommend the best strategy for us regarding Social Security, etc. Thank you in advance for your anticipated response. I truly appreciate your time and efforts in this matter. Sincerely, Disabled Lady

Hi,

I'm sorry to hear about your health problems.

There's probably not much to decide in your case. Your disability benefits will automatically convert to retirement benefits when you reach full retirement age, and the rate will stay the same. You could theoretically suspend your benefits at that time and earn delayed retirement credits, but that would mean going without any monthly benefits for some period of time.

You don't mention your son's age, but if he is under age 18, or under age 19 and still in high school, or he became disabled prior to age 22, he may be eligible for child's benefits on your record (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10085.pdf).

It sounds like your husband will have all of normal filing options available to him. He could file for reduced retirement benefits at age 62, or full benefits at age 66, or he could wait until age 70 to draw delayed retirement credits, which would increase his full rate by about 24%. Generally, it's best to wait until age 70 to start drawing if you can afford to, but that's a personal decision.

You could potentially be eligible for additional spousal benefits when your husband starts drawing his benefits, but his full retirement age rate (PIA) would have to be more than double the amount of your disability benefit rate in order for you to qualify. And, you would have to be at least age 62.

Your husband may want to consider running the maximization software available on this website before he applies for benefits in order to explore all of his filing options.

Best, Jerry