Which Month Should I Claim Benefits?

Apr 20 2017 - 7:43am

Hi Larry/Jerry,
I turned 69 April 18, 2017. I started drawing spousal benefits (restricted) when my wife turned 62 in August of 2014. The current plan is to start drawing my benefits in April of 2018 and for my wife to change to spousal benefits on my record in August of 2018. I have some questions: what month should we file for the new benefits and do the new benefits start as of the first of the months we turn 70 and 66 or the month after? Do we lose a month of benefits during the changeover? If I file before my 70th birthday, do I loose the whole 8% increase or is it prorated monthly? (.66% per month) I've looked over the info on SSA.gov and can't seem to find the answers.
Thanks for your time! Chuck

Hi Chuck,

If you want to receive maximum delayed retirement credits, you will want to elect April 2018 as your month of entitlement to retirement benefits on your own record. You can apply up to 4 months before then, but you don't need to file that far in advance. A month or 2 before should work fine. Social Security payments for the month of April are paid in May, by the way. And, you won't lose a month of benefits since you would still be due spousal benefits for March, which will be paid in April.

Delayed retirement credits are credited at a rate of 2/3rds of 1% per month, so that's the amount you would lose if you start drawing on your own record prior to age 70.

If 50% of your full retirement age rate (PIA) is higher than your wife's PIA, once you start drawing on your own record your wife could qualify for an excess spousal benefit on your record equal to the difference in those amounts. This excess amount would then be paid in addition to her own reduced retirement rate. However, if she starts drawing the excess spousal benefit prior to the month that she reaches full retirement age, her excess spousal benefit will also be reduced.

You may want to consider using the maximization software available on this website is order to explore all of your and your wife's filing options.

Best, Jerry