Ask Larry

Can My Wife Or I Receive Full Retirement Benefits Early If We Have A Disabled Child?

My wife is planning to retired at age 62yr 8 months
I'm planning to retire at 62.5 yrs (about 4 months after her)
Her Sept 1 2019 and myself Dec 2019
I read that if retired early but caring for a disable child (who will be around 27 autism nonverbal at age 4 and cannot live on his own)
That one of us can get full retirement as if 65?
Can either or both apply for it. If only one then it might be best if possible for me to apply for it as my SS would be higher
Would he lose his SSI and medicaid benefit?

I do have a good annuity from the government retirement started about 8 months ago
Plus I have a great 401K I have not touch yet and plan to use only when I feel the need to


No. If you and/or your wife file for your own retirement benefits before reaching your full retirement ages (FRA), your benefit rates will be reduced for age. The fact that you're caring for a disabled child wouldn't change that fact.

The source of your confusion likely stems from the fact that it's possible for a spouse with an eligible minor or disabled child in their care to receive unreduced Social Security spousal benefits. For example, say that your wife filed for reduced retirement benefits and that your son qualifies for disabled adult child's (DAC) benefits on her record. In that event, you could likely choose to file just for a child in care spousal benefit instead of your own retirement benefits. You could then potentially switch to your own benefits at FRA when they would be unreduced, or even at age 70 when they would be roughly 28% higher than your FRA rate.

If your son receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI), his SSI payments would be reduced roughly dollar for dollar by the amount of any DAC benefits that he receives. So, if his DAC benefit rate is higher than his SSI rate his SSI payments could stop altogether. I'm not a Medicaid expert, but since it's also a needs based benefit I assume that your son's Medicaid eligibility could potentially be affected by his receipt of DAC benefits. On the positive side, though, your son would qualify for Medicare after he has been entitled to DAC benefits for 2 years.

It sounds like you and your wife have numerous potential filing options, and it's important that you choose the best possible strategy for your family. Our maximization software will allow you to compare all of your various options in order to determine your best overall course of action.

Best, Jerry

Mar 16 2018 - 10:38am
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