Hi Larry. You recently provided an answer to a question about benefits for my wife and disabled adult son. Just need clarification on one point....if my wife (less than age 62) is receiving child in custody benefits on MY SS filing, will she be able to continue receiving THIS benefit IN ADDITION TO her own SS retirement benefit when she claims or is it one benefit or the other (depending on which one is higher) but not both? Thanks for your assistance!
No, your wife could not get both her own benefit and a full child in care (CIC) spousal benefit at the same time. If she's drawing CIC spousal benefits and she later files for her own benefits, she could not be paid any more than the higher of those 2 benefit rates.
To clarify, though, Social Security always pays a person's own benefit first. So, if your wife files for her benefits and her unreduced benefit rate is lower than her CIC spousal rate, she'd be due her own benefit plus a partial CIC spousal benefit. The partial CIC spousal benefit would be calculated by subtracting your wife's own primary insurance amount (PIA) from her full CIC spousal rate. A person's PIA is equal to their Social Security retirement benefit rate if they start drawing at full retirement age (FRA). Therefore, if your wife is drawing a CIC spousal benefit, which would not be reduced for age, and she then files for her own benefits prior to FRA it could result in a lower combined monthly rate.
For example, say Jan is getting a CIC spousal rate of $1000 and then files for her own Social Security retirement benefits at age 62. Jan's PIA is $800, so her CIC spousal rate would then be reduced to $200 (i.e. $1000 - $800). Jan's own benefit rate would be reduced for age to roughly $576, giving her a combined retirement and CIC benefit rate of $776 (i.e. $576 + $200).
So, in Jan's case she'd be taking an monthly rate cut if she chooses to file for her own benefits early. But, filing for her own benefits might permit the family maximum benefit (FMB) rate from Jan's record to be combined with the FMB on the record from which she's drawing CIC spousal benefits. And, in some cases that could result in higher overall family benefits.
Our software (https://maximizemysocialsecurity.com/purchase) can handle all of the computations involved in a case like Jan's described above, so you should strongly consider using the software to do your family's Social Security planning in order to determine the best way to maximize your benefits.