Could My Wife's Benefit Rate Go Down By Waiting To Apply?

Nov 10 2016 - 9:00am

In reviewing my wife's ssi statements, we noticed that her 2014 Statement showed a higher payment rate $1,384.00 than her 2016 statement $1,312.00. She does not receive payment as yet, we were holding out until higher monthly rate was obtained. It seems that holding out has just caused her to loose out on $72.00 a month. What happened to postponing payments until an older age to receive a grater payment?

Hi,

Your wife's benefit rate could not go down because she waited to apply. If her 2014 statement indicated that her benefit rate would be higher than her 2016 statement showed, it could only be due to a mistake, or because the 2014 statement included credit for future earnings that didn't materialize. Social Security statements project in future earnings at the rate of the most recent available earnings year, so if your wife stopped or reduced her work in the last few years, that could account for the difference in the estimates.

Social Security retirement benefits are based on a person's best 35 years of inflation adjusted earnings. Unreduced benefits are payable if the person starts drawing at their full retirement age (FRA), but if they wait until age 70 to start drawing, their benefit rate can be increased by as much as 32%. Or, they can start reduced benefits as early as age 62, in which case the sooner they start drawing prior to FRA, the higher the percentage reduction that's applied to their benefit rate.

Best, Jerry