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Stephanie O Joy, Esq
Stephanie O Joy, Esq, Soc. Sec. Attorney
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 13283
Experience:  19+ years legal exp. - 10+ years owning/operating her own SSD Law practice.
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I retired at age 62 and currently receive a monthly benefit

Customer Question

I retired at age 62 and currently receive a monthly benefit of $1,426. My daughter, age 12, receives a monthly child benefit of $945. If my wife stops working next year, what would be her monthly child benefit commencing in Jan, 2016? I understand that she would be entitled to such a benefit until our daughter reached the age of 16.
Submitted: 12 months ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 12 months ago.

Good afternoon, with regard to your post:

"I retired at age 62 and currently receive a monthly benefit of $1,426. ----- OK.

My daughter, age 12, receives a monthly child benefit of $945. -------- She is presumably getting 50% of your Primary Insurance Amount. So that would make your PIA about 1890. (You are not receiving your PIA amount because you decided to collect benefits early, for that permanent reduction.)

"If my wife stops working next year, what would be her monthly child benefit commencing in Jan, 2016? ------- She too can get up to 50%... but there is a family max, which is often 150% but can go as high as 180% of your So you will want to know your family max, which stems off of your PIA. But let's say your family max were a conservative 150%. That means 1890 (ballpark) X150% = 2835. You are taking 1426 of that, leaving 1409 for family. Once your wife collects, she and the child split that amount (each is up to 50% of your PIA, but there is no enough for both to get the 50%, under this scenario - so they share what is available, proportionately. So they'd each get $704.

I understand that she would be entitled to such a benefit until our daughter reached the age of 16. ----- Yes.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 12 months ago.

I hope this helps! My goal is to provide you with excellent and accurate service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions.

Kindly rate me "excellent" when you are done. I look forward to assisting you in the future, should you have legal questions. Be sure to start future posts with "To ***** Esq., ONLY" if you want me to specifically answer it.

Sincerely, ***** ***** Joy, Esq.

Your online SS legal resource!

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Thank you for responding so quickly. It was informative.
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 12 months ago.

You are welcome! Please don't forget to rate.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I was at the local social security office today and they advised me that their calculation of the spouse and child benefit is as follows: Family Maximum of $3,340. LESS the PIA of $1,890., and the balance is split equally between my wife and our daughter. This calculation appears to be at odds with your calculation, to wit, that one would deduct my current benefit of $1,426. from the family max and that balance is split equally to my wife and daughter. Please advise if this is a correct representation of your answer. Thanks.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I was at the local social security office today and they advised me that their calculation of the spouse and child benefit is as follows: Family Maximum of $3,340. LESS the PIA of $1,890., and the balance is split equally between my wife and our daughter. This calculation appears to be at odds with your calculation, to wit, that one would deduct my current benefit of $1,426. from the family max and that balance is split equally to my wife and daughter. Please advise if this is a correct representation of your answer. Thanks
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 10 months ago.

Hi, my name is***** and I am here to assist you. I am a social security attorney in my private practice – that is ALL I do. Please let me know that my post here is coming through for you by typing a quick reply.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 10 months ago.

OK, I see the problem. There is a family max., yes. But there is also an individual eligibility maximum. My understanding is as follows: Your two dependents can only get up to 50% o your PIA . So if your PIA is 1890, mom and child's max each is 945. So if your own DUE amount is 1426, and they each get 945: 1426+945+945 then the total payout is 3316. There is plenty for them to get their full 50%, particularly since you are not taking yours. It looks like the SSA is saying that it is not allowing your family to use the family max - that the part you are not using (due to taking early), is NOT available for the family maximum. SO even though you are only taking 1426, they are disallowing that 450 or more that you lost, to be allocated to them to meet their 50% - so that the family max of 3340 or so is really NOT the family max, but it is more like 2900. Am I understanding the SSA's position on this, as stated to you by the SSA?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Their position is that you deduct the PIA of $1,890. rather than my current benefit of $1,426 from the Family Maximum of $3,340. and the balance is split equally between my wife and our daughter. This results in the discrepancy and is the issue. Surely, SS cannot arbitrarily "not allow" us to utilize our family max without a regulatory or statutory basis. I would think that there is a clear mathematical formula which addresses our circumstances, while not common is certainly not one of first impression. I asked the SS representative for authority for his calculation and he responded rather cryptically and did not produce any. In any event, a clarification of this matter would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 10 months ago.

I understand. And I agree! It seems inappropriate to claim their is a family max, but then not let you use it. What if you weren't getting ANY of your PIA because you'd "suspended" - would they "charge" it to you anyway to keep the dependents below their allowed rate?

And I actually think this a common issue: early retiree with dependents - how do they do the family max?

Thus far, I have NOT seen anything to suggest that they can USE a figure as your payout that is not in fact your payout. But I am going to confer with some colleagues, OK? If this post closes out before I can get to it, please do open it up, and nudge me.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 10 months ago.

OK, here is what we have found - and it isn't good! It seems contrary to logic to me, but it is what it is. But they DO count you as your PIA, even if you are net getting your PIA. Family suffers as if you were:

RS 00615.756 Adjusting Benefits for the Family Maximum (FMAX)
A. Policy
A beneficiary's benefit rate is established by law to be a set percentage of the insured individual's PIA, subject to the family maximum. The Original Benefit (OB) for an Aged Wife, Husband, Young Wife/Husband (with child in care) is 50% of the PIA. The OB for a Young Mother/Father (with child in care) is 75% of the Number Holder's Death PIA. And the OB for a widow(er) is 100% of the Number Holder's Death PIA.
B. Procedure
1. Life Case
Determine family maximum.
Deduct PIA from maximum.
Divide b. by number of auxiliaries. (Result not to exceed OB)

I am very sorry for this news :(

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 10 months ago.

I hope this helps! My goal is toprovide you with excellent and accurateservice – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, Iam happy to address follow-up questions.

Kindly rate me "excellent"when you are done. I look forward to assisting you in the future, shouldyou have legal questions. Be sure tostart future posts with "To ***** Esq., ONLY" ifyou want me to specifically answer it.

Sincerely, ***** ***** Joy, Esq.

Your online SS legal resource!

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 10 months ago.

Hello again. It is Stephanie Joy,checking back with you. It is month end for my office accounting - Please,if you haven't yet had the opportunity to do either of the items below, I ask that you do so now, because it is the only way I can receive credit for time spent with you. Please:

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Sincerely,

Stephanie O. Joy, Esq. – Your Online Legal Professional