How Would The Family Maximum Benefit Be Applied In Our Case?

Apr 28 2017 - 7:09am

Complicated Max Family Benefit question due to adopted grandchildren who are currently drawing a survivor benefit. My wife and I are preparing to retire and collect SS at 62 . We are raising and adopted our 2 grandchildren. Their father (our son) is deceased and they each receive $1000 a month survivor benefits. Having a hard time finding info on how the combined family maximum works in our situation, Our numbers. My PIA is $2765, my benefit at 62 will be $1967.My total family benefit is $4803. My wifes PIA is $625, her benefit at 62 will be $450. Her total family benefit is $1026. I think I understand my aux benefit is $ 2038, ($4803-$2765) and my wife aux benefit is will be $401, ($1026- $650). How do my grandchildrens survivor benefits plug into this? Do they stay on it separate from us or do have to come over to my benefit once I start drawing? Does the survivor benefit somehow get combined with me and my wifes benefit? Are we limited by me and my wifes combined number? Any help or direction would be very much appreciated.


There is a combined family maximum limit that varies depending on the year in which the applicable family maximums were combined. The combined family maximum limit for maximums first combined in 2017 is $5268. That limit would apply in your family's case if you apply for your benefits this year and your adopted grandchildren become entitled on your record, since your family maximum could then be combined with the family maximum on your deceased son's record.

It's important to understand that this combined limit is a ceiling figure, and isn't necessarily paid in full. For example, even if you take your benefits at age 62 and receive a reduced rate, your full PIA will be subtracted from the family maximum. So, the actual total benefits paid could fall well below the ceiling figure, depending on when you and your wife start drawing your benefits.

Frankly, there are so many possible filing options to consider in your case that I can't go through all of them. You may want to consider running the maximization software available on this website. The software can sort through your thousands of options and identify the best filing strategy for your family.

Best, Jerry