Should I File For Social Security Now?

May 16 2017 - 8:35am

Please, I need help figuring this math! I've been to Soc. Security Office and still don't understand this mess of Soc. Security and WEP. My husband passed away in July of 2016, at age 63, and hadn't started collecting his Soc. Sec. I believe his full Soc. Security at age 66 would have been about $2,500.00 a month. I am 63, but haven't collected any Soc. Security, either. I have enough Soc. Sec. credits based on my own work record to get about 800 a month at age 66. But, after teaching 10 years in MO, I retired at age 60 in the Missouri State Teachers Retirement System. My MO teacher retirement is about 800 month. I'm told that I will be penalized by my little Teacher Retirement check that is affecting ANY Soc. Security check I'm entitled to-- whether based on my own work record, or my spousal allowance on my husband's work. It makes me so mad to know that my little teacher retirement check is affecting ANY Soc. Sec I could ever be eligible for, and makes me wish I hadn't taught the 10 years in MO! I'm trying to decide whether it would be beneficial in the long run to start collecting any Soc. Security now or whether it's best to wait till my full retirement age of 66. I have read tons of info! Should I should draw ANY Soc. Security now? I've been the Soc. Security amount I could collect, based on everything above, would be about 1400 a month now. If I wait till 66, they tell me it would be about 1700 a month. Should I draw on my own work record now and draw on my spousal allowance later? This is about to drive me nuts. I'm trying to decide if I should return to work, because I'm short each month with the income I have coming in. But, if I return to teaching in MO, that hurts any Soc. Security amount I get, even more. However if I teach in another state that pays into Soc. Security, I can build up any Soc. Security I will get. Please help me sort this out. Thank you so much!

Hi,

I'm sorry for your loss.

Your teacher's pension would likely affect both your own retirement benefit rate, and your widow's benefit amount. This is due to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) in the case of your retirement benefits (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10045.pdf), and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) provision in the case of your widow's benefits (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10007.pdf).

If you're not currently working, it sounds like your best strategy would be to file for reduced retirement benefits now, and then file for unreduced widow's benefits when you reach full retirement age. Even if you are working, this may be your best strategy depending on the level of your earnings.

You may want to consider running the maximization software available on this website in order to be sure that you choose the best strategy. The software is programmed to handle both WEP and GPO computations, as well as the Social Security earnings test.

Best, Jerry