If I Sign Up For Divorced Spousal Benefits At Age 62, Will My Rate Be Permanently Reduced?

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Mar 16 2017 - 7:15am

Larry, I will be 62 in a few months. My SS amt, if I take it then, is only $627/mth. I am eligible to draw off my ex spouse who is already 62 but not going to sign up for his SS at this time. He told me his PIA at FRA is $2750/mth. Together we have a disabled adult child (disabled at age 16 - now 43). Our child lives with me and I can only work pt because she requires constant care/supervision. It has been this way for the last 27yrs. My question is, if I sign up for ex spousal benefits at age 62 will I get 1/2 of his FRA amt or will it be reduced and stay at the reduced rate until I die? What would my benefit amt be and is it in my best interest to wait as long as I can? My health is not what it once was and I am tired. Child SSI supplements my pt employment.

Hi,

If you file for divorced spousal benefits at age 62 and your ex-husband is not yet drawing his benefits, you will be deemed to also have filed for retirement benefits on your own record, and both benefits will be reduced. If your own reduced retirement rate at age 62 is $627, that means your full retirement age rate (PIA) would be about $842. Your excess divorced spousal benefit at age 62 would be calculated by subtracting your PIA from 50% of your ex's PIA, then reducing the difference by about 30.5%. In your case, that would amount to about $370 per month based on your figures (i.e. ($2750/2 - $842)*.695). That would make your combined monthly rate approximately $997, and yes that rate reduction is permanent unless some of your benefits are withheld due to the Social Security earnings test (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking2.html), or possibly if your ex-husband files for his benefits before you reach full retirement age and your child becomes eligible for disabled adult child's benefits on his record. In the latter case, you may then become eligible for child-in-care spousal benefits, which could increase your excess divorced spousal rate at least somewhat.

It sounds like your daughter will likely qualify for disabled adult child's benefits when either you or your ex files for retirement benefits, but the benefits she receives will offset her SSI benefits essentially dollar for dollar. Still, that should mean more income for her when your husband files, since 50% of his PIA is more than the maximum SSI rate.

Your situation is rather complicated, and much of it depends on when your ex files for his benefits, which I assume is beyond your control. You may want to try running the maximization software available on this website to get a better idea of your filing options.

Best, Jerry