Should My Wife Have Taken Her Retirement Benefit Early?

Jul 4 2016 - 3:45pm

Dear Larry,

My wife and I are now 68. I am still employed...my wife is retired. When she reached 62, my wife filed to receive SS benefits based on her earnings. When I reached 66, I filed and suspended....while my wife filed for spousal benefits and her benefits were increased. I plan to wait until 70 to receive benefits. The plan is working as I expected EXCEPT that I now know that her benefits will be permanently reduced since she filed at 62. I did not understand this part of the plan. I thought she would receive 50% of my benefit once I commenced benefits.
Is there any fix for us....such as paying back the 48k she has received since 62? We both are in good health and are likely to live into our 90's.

Thank you, Bernard

Dear Bernard,

Your wife cannot withdraw her decision to file for a retirement benefit. She only has 1 year from the time of filing to do this. You may have goofed up or not depending on whether her retirement benefit at 70, had she never taken it early, would still be less than her spousal benefit. If that's the case, you probably did exactly the right thing. At this point, if she suspends her retirement benefit she might be able to get a larger check starting at 70. If she does this, her excess spousal benefit will be reduced dollar for dollar by her increase in her retirement benefit. But if her excess spousal benefit is small, the loss of it in its entirety may be a small cost compared to her getting an up to 16 percent retirement benefit starting at 70 (if she suspends). Please run our $40 software program. It will tell you very quickly what's best at this point.

best, Larry