When Should I Apply For Benefits?

Jan 25 2017 - 6:00am

I am 63 years old and due to financial need, I intend to file for my Social Security benefits now and will be asking to suspend until them until I reach age 64 in October of this year . I am not asking for spousal benefits but is that a possibility as my husband began receiving his benefits at age 70. He is now 75. My estimated monthly benefit will be $1402.00 at age 64. My husband's monthly benefit is $802.00.
I have used your software and it basically says that I need to wait until age 66 to get maximum benefits. As I will need my retirement income at the end of this year if not before, that is not an option. How do I ensure I get the maximum I can get for my circumstances?
Thank you for your advice. Deb

Hi Deb,

You can't voluntarily suspend your benefits until you reach full retirement age, so I don't know what you mean when you say that you intend to file now and suspend your benefits until age 64. If you're still working, the Social Security earnings test (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking2.html) could cause your benefits to be suspended involuntarily, so maybe that's what you mean? If the earnings test is an issue for you, the maximization software should be able to help you with that.

In any case, the sooner you start drawing your benefits, the lower your monthly rate will be. If they would be $1402 at 64, then they would be about $1618 if you waited until age 66 to apply. But they would only be about $1321 if you file now. Or, if you waited until age 70, they would be about $2135.

Since your own benefit rate is more than 50% of your husband's rate, you won't be eligible for spousal benefits if you file prior to age 66. However, since you were born prior to January 2 1954, you would have the option of filing for spousal benefits only at age 66 and waiting until age 70 to take your own benefits. That may well be the optimal strategy in your case.

The maximization software should have identified the optimal filing strategy for you, but you're free to make your own choices if you feel that you must.

Best, Jerry