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PDtax
PDtax, CPA firm owner
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 1922
Experience:  32 years tax and professional advice in all matters money
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I will turn 63 in January and my ex is 67. We were married

Resolved Question:

I will turn 63 in January and my ex is 67. We were married for 18 years and I have not remarried. I know I am eligible to collect as an "ex-spouse" but when should I apply? I don't plan on collecting my own SS until age 70 - Will collecting on his, affect my own SS benefits or my SS payment %?
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  PDtax replied 9 months ago.

PDtax :

Welcome to the site. I'm PDtax, and thanks for asking for me.

PDtax :

Great question. As an ex-spouse, you can collect based on your ex's earnings record, but not if you are entitled to a higher benefit on your own record.

PDtax :

http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/299/~/qualifying-for-divorced-spouse-benefits is the link.

PDtax :

A person can receive benefits as a divorced spouse on a former spouse’s Social Security record if he or she:
Was married to the former spouse for at least 10 years;
Is at least age 62 years old;
Is unmarried; and
Is not entitled to a higher Social Security benefit on his or her own record.

Customer:

Yes I know that.

Customer:

I wanted to know if collecting on his until I'm ready to collect on mine at age 70, will affect my %.

PDtax :

Then collecting on his earnings record is a great idea! It does not affect your benefit on your own record at all.

Customer:

Or do I have to wait until my "full" retirement age of 67 to begin collecting on his?

PDtax :

You do not have to wait until your full retirement age to begin collecting on his.

PDtax :

You meet all the requirements listed above, so I think you could begin collecting now if you wish at age 62.

Customer:

Estimates for my benefit at age 70 are around $2000/month. If he collects the maximum benefit, am I entitled to 1/2 say $1500 now until I retire?

Customer:

Do you know what the maximum amount is - or if I would be eligible for 1/2 of his amount?

PDtax :

SSA would pay you as an ex-spouse a benefit based on the higher of your own record or your ex-husband's.

PDtax :

Because you are not at full retirement age (FRA), your benefit will start at half of his, then be reduced for the months you are claiming before FRA.

Customer:

What do you mean my benefits would be reduced? When I collect my own SS at age 70?

PDtax :

Let's say he gets a max benefit of $2,533. You could claim now and get a benefit based on early retirement.

Customer:

what does that do to my retirement?

PDtax :

Your benefit would be $2,533 @ 50%, reduced by the months you are retiring early. $1,267 times the early retirement might be $1,000 or so per month now based on his earnings.

Customer:

Do you mean I would collect $1000 instead of $1267 until I collect my retirement at age 70?

Customer:

Would I still get my $2000 at age 70?

PDtax :

I'm working on that. It's the early retirement you are considering that may reduce your benefit. Still looking, please bear with me...

Customer:

So it sounds like in order to collect on my ex, I either have to retire early and lower my own benefits or wait until I'm age 67 (my full retirement) and collect on him for a couple of years until I turn 70. Since he travels a lot and is not in the best health, what if he dies, can I still collect 50%?

PDtax :

You can claim higher widow's benefits. I believe you could be eligible for 100% of his benefit if he passes.

Customer:

Even though we were divorced? what is that penalty for early retirement...is it a sliding scale where age 65 is not much different than 67? or how much difference would it make on my benefit later if I say waited until 65 to collect as an ex on his?

PDtax :

http://www.ssa.gov/oact/quickcalc/earlyretire.html is the link I used to get the chart. Your FRA is 66, so you would lose just short of 30% of the 50% benefit you would receive if you wait until FRA. Your $1,267 benefit would be approximately $950 per month. Each month you wait you gain some benefit back, so at age 65 you would likely lose about 10% of this benefit. At 65 you would likely receive $1,100 per month. This would also likely impact what you would get on your earnings at age 70 as well.

Customer:

As in my very first question, you can see I'm trying to figure out when to apply and how it will affect my own retirement benefits...Seems like the "ex-spouse benefit" isn't much of a benefit it it lowers my ability to collect my own SS.

PDtax :

I appreciate the difficulty in planning, but there is more to this decision than the benefit calculation, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention a few things.

PDtax :

Your ex-husband's health is a factor in claiming now.

PDtax :

Your desire to continue working now is a factor.

PDtax :

Your ability to retire now and potentially draw on other resources, and allow your social Security benefits to grow is a factor/option.

PDtax :

For example, I have seen instances when the retiree lived on other funds until her benefit maximized. Her health, desire for inheritance planning and other factors made spending down her resources now the better decision.

PDtax :

This kind of planning requires much more than the answers I can give online.

PDtax :

There is more to making the decision, but our job here is to provide answers, which I have done. The planning should be done with a financial advisor whom you can share the other parts of the decisionmaking with.

PDtax :

So, please allow my work to be limited to answering your questions, which I have done. Take that new information, and meet an advisor you trust.

PDtax :

Thanks from Just Answer. If I have helped you today, please leave positive feedback (and a bonus if warranted). I'm PDtax.

Expert:  PDtax replied 9 months ago.
Our chat has ended, but you can still continue to ask me questions here until you are satisfied with your answer. Come back to this page to view our conversation and any other new information.

What happens now?

If you haven’t already done so, please rate your answer above. Or, you can reply to me using the box below.
Expert:  PDtax replied 9 months ago.
Hi Melissa,

I was hoping my answer met your needs, and that you could provide positive feedback, which closes out your question. Thanks.

PDtax
Expert:  PDtax replied 9 months ago.
I see you did not like my answer. A few items of note:

I answered your original question, and several additional ones. That is the service you agreed to pay for.

When you posted the following, I believed you wanted a professional planning opinion, which is beyond what we do here. Your question follows: "As in my very first question, you can see I'm trying to figure out when to apply and how it will affect my own retirement benefits...Seems like the "ex-spouse benefit" isn't much of a benefit it it lowers my ability to collect my own SS."

That I took you to mean you were inquiring about what you should do. I tried to explain that the decision involved other factors I was not privy to. I then went on, and did for you what I felt was a favor, and tried to encourage you to look at other issues and seek professional advice.

We are limited here to answering questions. When you asked about what to do, I had no choice but to point out your options. I assumed you would know I was trying to assist.

If the hour I spent assisting you is bad service, and you did not appreciate the value of what I tried to do, then I thank you for using Just Answer. If you want a refund, please contact customer service.
PDtax, CPA firm owner
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 1922
Experience: 32 years tax and professional advice in all matters money
PDtax and 2 other Social Security Specialists are ready to help you

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