How Much Will We Get If I Apply On My Own Record?

Jan 21 2017 - 6:15am

My husband retired at age 66 in October 2016. He receives $2649 in SS benefits. Our adult disabled son also receives benefits on my husband's record and I am receiving Child In Care benefits. My son and I are both entitled to 50% of my husband's amount ($1324) but since the Family Maximum applies, we each receive $993.
I will be 66 in April 2018. I want to file for my own as well as spousal benefits in November of 2017 - since the Combined Family Maximum limits how much we could receive as a family it doesn't help us to wait until I am FRA. My own benefit amount is $818.(My understanding is that the combined family max for this year is $5268 a month.) So if I file for my own benefits and spousal benefits in November 2017, the SSA site says as a spouse I will be entitled to 48.27 of my husband's PIA (which would be $1278). Since the Combined Family Maximum, $5268, is higher than the current Family Maximum we are subject to, $4639, I believe that my son's DAC benefit will be changed to 50% of my husband's PIA, or $1324.
In other words, Nov 2017;
I retire, stop getting Child in Care benefits and get spousal benefits ($1278)
My son gets an increase in his DAC benefits because we are now subject to the higher Combined Family Max,($1324)
My husband still gets $2649.
Total: $5251 for the three of us combined.
Do I have any of this wrong? I want to make certain that I can do all of this.

Hi Karen,

You've got it mostly correct. You would apparently still qualify for child in care spousal benefits when you file on your own record, though, so your excess spousal benefit won't be reduced for age. But, your own benefit rate will be reduced for age if you start drawing it before age 66.

If your own full retirement age rate (PIA) is $818, here's how the math would work:
1) Combined maximum ($5268) minus husband's PIA ($2649) = $2619;
2) $2619 divided by 2 = $1309 for your son;
3) Your excess child in care spousal rate would then be calculated by subtracting your PIA from your unreduced share of the maximum (i.e. $1309 - $818 = $491);
4) Your own benefit rate would be reduced from $818 to $795 in return for starting 5 months prior to full retirement age (FRA), giving you a combined rate of $1286.

Thus, the total amount payable would be approximately $5,244 (i.e. $2649 + $1309 + $1286) when you file and the family maximums are combined. I should point out that these rates are approximate based on your figures, and I did the math myself. You may want to consider running the maximization software available on this website in order to explore all of your filing options to be sure that you choose the best filing strategy.

Best, Jerry