Do I Need To File And Suspend My Benefits?

Category: 
Jul 5 2017 - 3:17pm

I have been reading through the "Ask Larry" entries and have two questions that I haven't yet encountered answers to. First: It is apparent that for my wife to collect survivor's benefits I need to have filed for benefits. I am now 66 and will continue to work full-time in a high-income job through the age of 70. Do I need to "file and suspend" at this time? Second: If I continue to work (same high-income job) past the age of 70, how will my social security payments be affected?

Hi,

There's probably no reason for you to file for and suspend your benefits. If you don't wish to start drawing benefits until you are age 70, you will accrue delayed retirement credits (DRC) whether you file and suspend your benefits before then, or if you simply wait and file at age 70. For more information about DRCs, refer to Social Security's website: https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/delayret.html.

Furthermore, there is no requirement that you must have filed for your benefits in order for your wife to potentially qualify for survivor benefits. If you die without having filed for benefits, your surviving spouse could still potentially qualify for widows benefits. And, her widow's rate would be calculated the same whether you filed and suspended your benefits, or never filed at all.

If you continue working past age 70, your benefit rate can be recalculated annually for as long as you continue working. Your Social Security retirement benefit rate is based on your highest 35 years of wage-indexed earnings (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10070.pdf), so your benefit rate should increase following each year in which you earn more than in one of your previous 35 highest wage-indexed earnings years.

The maximization software available on this website allows you to enter your expected earnings for future years in order to determine their effect on your benefit rate, and it should help enable you determine your best course of action.

Best, Jerry