What's The Best Way For Me To Optimize My Benefits?

Dec 24 2016 - 5:15pm

Hi Larry:

My husband is 22 years older than me (82). I just turned 60. He started collecting SS at age 62. I've been working all my life and can wait until I'm 70 to start collecting. My question is: What strategies should I be aware of to optimize my SS benefits? Is there anything I should be doing prior to age 70? What if my husband passes before I start collecting SS - is there something I should do that would increase my SS other than waiting until age 70 when it will be the highest amount possible? Thanks!


Your best strategy depends somewhat on the relative rates of your own and your husband's benefits, but if you can afford to wait until age 70 to start drawing, that may be your best option. That's especially true if your own benefit rate is higher than your husband's. If you wait until age 70 to start drawing, your monthly benefit rate will be around 29% higher than if you start drawing at your full retirement age.

On the off chance that your own full retirement age rate (PIA) is less than half of your husband's PIA, then you would not want to wait past full retirement age to start drawing.

If your husband were to die before you reach age 70, it would likely be advantageous for you to start drawing widow's benefits as soon as you're eligible, and then switch to your own record at age 70. That is, assuming that your own benefit rate at age 70 would be higher than your potential widow's rate. Drawing widow's benefits first, even at a reduced rate, would not adversely affect the benefit rate payable on your own record.

You may want to consider running the maximization software available on this website in order to explore all of your filing options.

Best, Jerry