Should I Take My Retirement Benefit Early To Activate My Wife's Spousal Benefit?

Sep 3 2016 - 2:30pm

Dear Larry,

I turned 66 this month, my wife of 4 years turns 66 in March, 2017. Starting in May of 2017 I will semi-retire. I will be working from October through May each year and living at my wife's flat outside Paris the rest of the year. We plan to start collecting SS payments in April 2017. She will collect under my benefit for the rest of her life as she has not worked enough quarters in the U.S. to qualify. I was considering suspending and restarting in October and May of every year, as I will not need the income from SS when I'm working. I expect to earn about 7K per month when working. I also expect to "need" the 3.6 K SS payment that that my wife and I will collect during our summers abroad. How many times can I suspend and restart? I did not see the answer in your revised book, or on the SS website. Thank you for looking into this. Secondarily, do you think it would be in my best interest to do so. Perhaps I will need to subscribe to your calculator to get an answer to that. My life expectancy is probably less than average (type 2 diabetes), my wife's mom in 96 years old and my wife is very healthy.

Thanks, Burt

Dear Burt,

Yes, you should use our software and you can consider suspending and restarting. But given the new law, your wife will not be able to collect a spousal benefit while your benefit is in suspension. Our software will tell you when it is best to start taking your benefit. There is a tradeoff here. The sooner you take it, the sooner your wife can start collecting. But it comes at a cost of lowering your own benefit relative to what it would be at 70. This is where your sense of your maximum age of life comes into play. The software will show you how your maximum age of life matters to when you should start collecting your retirement benefit.

As for your cash flow issues, using our Social Security software in conjunction with ESPlannerPLUS, which we market at www.esplanner.com, will help you determine how best to manage that problem.

You can suspend and restart as often as you wish.

best, Larry