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My mother is divorced from my father. She only worked a little

My mother is divorced from...
My mother is divorced from my father. She only worked a little bit during her life, enough to get about $100 per month. My father is still working. Can she claim her benefit now and the (much) higher spousal benefit later when my father retires? If so, is there a particular rule to reference?
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Answered in 4 minutes by:
8/15/2013
Megan C
Megan C, Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 16,581
Experience: Licensed CPA, CMA, CFE, CGMA M.Accy Also Teach Accounting courses at Master's Level
Verified

MyVirtualCPA :

I realize you have a question about social security. My goal is to help you better understand your options.

MyVirtualCPA :

How old is your mother?

MyVirtualCPA :

I'm not certain why your mother would want to wait for the higher benefit - she can draw it now, even if your father is still working because she is divorced

MyVirtualCPA :

His benefit is not going to increase by very much these last few years that he is working

Customer:

My mother is 63 or 64. My father is the same age. He is going to work 4-7 more years (he remarried about a year ago, don't know if that is relevant).

Customer:

My mother calculated what she would get when he retires but not what she would get if she collected now. He is working in IT for a large company and making decent money -- more than he made the first 15 years of his career before he got into this field. So, this may increase the benefit a bit.

MyVirtualCPA :

It might, but by less than $50, or $25 to your mother

MyVirtualCPA :

His remarriage is not relevant...it will not impact your mother's ability to draw

MyVirtualCPA :

Now...your mom is under full retirement age

MyVirtualCPA :

She can't select a lower benefit and let another benefit grow

MyVirtualCPA :

So, she can't draw her benefit now and switch to his benefit. She can do that after full retirement age, but not before

Customer:

Sounds like we have two options -- collect under his benefit, possibly reduced a bit (or wait for it to go higher).

Customer:

The second is switching after full retirement age. Can she wait until she reaches full retirement age, collect hers, then switch to his after he retires?

Customer:

Or would it not work that way?

MyVirtualCPA :

She could do that, yes.

MyVirtualCPA :

If she draws his benefit now, she won't get a full 50% either

MyVirtualCPA :

Because she's younger than full retirement age

MyVirtualCPA :

It would be more like 40%

Customer:

Is there a particular rule that we can reference if she chooses to collect her benefit at full retirement age and his benefit later? She asked the people at the SS administration for the rule preventing her. They said they would send it to her, but just sent a spreadsheet without that information.

Customer:

We just want to be prepared if they tell her again that she can't -- they seem to be interested at that office in getting rid of people quickly.

MyVirtualCPA :

I don't have a citation of code, I just know because I have seen this done multiple times before

MyVirtualCPA :

For example, I had someone that was drawing their own benefit that did not know about the spousal benefit. They were able to switch

MyVirtualCPA :

by calling 1-800-772-1213

MyVirtualCPA :

Okay. Your mom can draw her benefit now, and then switch to your father's benefit later on. It's the opposite that you cannot do. I have found you an article on the topic

MyVirtualCPA :

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/a-cautionary-tale-of-spousal-benefits-2013-02-05

Customer:

Thank you for the information. I got disconnected from the chat earlier, but I am very happy with the information provided.

MyVirtualCPA :

Thank you for your kind words if you could rate my answer as excellent so I may receive credit for assisting you today.

Megan C
Megan C, Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 16,581
Experience: Licensed CPA, CMA, CFE, CGMA M.Accy Also Teach Accounting courses at Master's Level
Verified
Megan C and 87 other Social Security Specialists are ready to help you
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Megan C
Megan C
Megan C, Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 16,581
16,581 Satisfied Customers
Experience: Licensed CPA, CMA, CFE, CGMA M.Accy Also Teach Accounting courses at Master's Level

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