Can My Wife Get Child In Care Benefits Without Having To File For Her Benefits?

Feb 16 2020 - 7:57am

Hello Larry:
Combined family benefit question. My 2 adopted grandsons currently receive $1000 a month survivor benefits from their deceased fathers ( our son) ss. I will be filing later this year at 62. My wife will also be turning 62 this year. We both are retired. My PIA is $2765, my benefit at 62 will be $1967..My total family benefit is $4803. My questions are: Can my wife get child care benefits on my claim without having to file for her benefit and then wait until she is 67 to file hers? If she can, will the boys survivors benefits be combined with mine to raise our total benefits to the combined family maximum of $5707? I think I understand my aux benefit is $ 2038, ($4803-$2765). Will they then add the boys survivor benefits with mine to get us to the CFM total or does his go away when I file? if they don't combine them , mine alone would not increase the amount we are already getting. My wife would probably file for her own benefits versus splitting the $2038 three ways. I have your software and its been helpful but am having trouble with this particular situation. Thank You


I should explain that I answer the questions submitted to this forum, but I don't have access to our software customer's data. You may want to resubmit your question using an online contact form from the help menu so that your questions can be answered by one of our experts with access to your data.

I can tell you that your adopted grandsons could not draw benefits on more than one account at the same time. Nor could their entitlements be split so that one of the children be paid survivor benefits while the other is paid benefits from your record. So, when you apply for your benefits your children could either both continue to draw their survivor benefits or switch to drawing benefits from your record.

Your wife could potentially qualify for child in care spousal benefits without filing for her own benefits provided that she has a child in her care who is either under age 16 or disabled, and who is entitled to benefits on your record.

If your adopted grandchildren are each currently receiving a survivor rate of $1000 then your son's (i.e. their father) primary insurance amount (PIA) must be at least $1500, and the family maximum benefit (FMB) on his account would have to be at least $2250. Therefore, if you file for your benefits and your FMB is $4803 then the combined FMBs on your account and your son's account would be well over the current statutory limit of $5707.60. Thus, $5707.60 would be the operative potential combined FMB when you file, which would leave roughly $2942 (i.e. $5707 minus your PIA of $2765) available for auxiliary benefits.

If your wife doesn't apply for spousal benefits on your record and only your adopted grandsons qualify for auxiliary benefits on your account, they could then each be paid a full 50% of your PIA, or roughly $1382, without exceeding the combined FMB. But, if your wife does file for child in care spousal benefits then she and the children would have to split the FMB and get roughly $980 each (i.e. $2942/3).

Remember, though, if you file for your benefits at age 62 you will always receive a reduced benefit rate. You don't mention your wife's PIA so I don't know if she might qualify for widow's benefits if you die first, but filing for your benefits at age 62 would also substantially reduce the widow's rate that your wife could potentially be paid from your account. In other words, maximizing total monthly benefits in the short term may not be your best long term plan. Our software should be able to help your sort out and compare your options so that you can determine your best overall filing strategy.

Best, Jerry