What Is Our Best Strategy?

Apr 12 2017 - 7:00am

Hello Larry, I was born 7/30/60 and my wife 8/16/73, so I am 13 years older than she is. Tama will have a reasonable SS income on her own, but mine will be larger. I imagine that I should wait until 70 to collect SS so that when I die Tama will collect more based on my income, but I am not certain how that works? No matter when I collect, should Tama start collecting a reduced amount at 62, when I am 75? Anyway, the question is, based on our ages, what is the optimal approach to collecting SS? Thanks so much! Joe

Hi Joe,

Yes, it would probably be best for you to wait until age 70 to start drawing your benefits. That way, if you die first and your wife becomes entitled to widow's benefits at her full retirement age (FRA) or later, she'll receive your full age 70 rate as a widow. She couldn't get both her own rate and yours, though, just the higher of the two.

You could make an argument for your wife taking her own benefits at a reduced rate starting at 62, but if she does so she'll be stuck with a significantly lower benefit rate for as long as both of you are living. Much of her decision on when to start drawing depends on your assumptions about your maximum ages of life, so you'll probably want to use the maximization software available on this website to help you with your planning.

Best, Jerry