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LawTalk, Attorney
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 37855
Experience:  I have 30 years of legal and litigation experience, including representing clients before the U.S. Social Security Administration.
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I was given bad advice by my accountant: I started to take

Customer Question

I was given bad advice by my accountant: I started to take SS benefits at age 64. I didn't know, however, that my husband could suspend his SS and I could take the spousal benefit instead of my own benefit, which is lower. Can I change this?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  LawTalk replied 2 years ago.
Good afternoon,
I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today. In order to give you a clear and concise answer, I will need some additional information about the circumstances, please.
1. How many months or years have you been taking your own retirement benefit?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I believe it has been two years.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Are you there?
Expert:  LawTalk replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for the additional information.
Because you have been taking your own benefit for 2 years it is too late to withdraw your claim, pay all the money back and start fresh. However, it is not too late to make a spouse claim---though your benefit will be slightly less than it would have been 2 years ago because you took your benefit early. Let me explain.
Because you started taking a benefit a couple of years early, you would not (even back then) been eligible for the full 50% as a spouse benefit.
Let’s say that your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) is $1,000. You filed for your own benefit at 64 and received a reduced retirement benefit of $875.
Your husband has a PIA of $2500. You are eligible to receive one-half of his PIA at your full retirement age. $2500 (his PIA); divided by two, that equals $1,250 (This is the full spouse’s rate). Social Security will subtract the $1250 (the full spouse’s rate) – $1000 (your PIA)= $250.
Social Security will add that $250 to your reduced retirement benefit amount of $875 and her new benefit amount at age 66 will be $1,125, which is somewhat less than the full spouse’s rate, but still an increase over what you are receiving now.
You may reply back to me using the Reply link and I will be happy to continue to assist you until I am able to address your concerns, to your satisfaction.
Please remember to rate my service to you so that I can be compensated for helping you.
I wish you and yours the best in 2015,
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you. This is very helpful. How do I go about making this change? Is it something that can be done online with SS or do I have to go there personally (heaven forbid!).
Expert:  LawTalk replied 2 years ago.
I'm glad that you are encouraged. In most cases the spouse with a much smaller retirement benefit often does better by switching.
However, social security has no process for switching online. You must either go into the local social security office (easiest) or wait hours on the phone trying to speak with a live representative (can be several hours of waiting). You can call the Social Security Office toll-free at 1-***-***-****.
The entire process will take perhaps 30 minutes. You will need a copy of your marriage certificate and your husband's social security number---and that is all.
Thank you for your kind words. They are appreciated.
Please understand that in order for me to be compensated for having helped you, I need for you to positively rate my service to you by clicking on the rating stars---three stars or more. It is that easy.
Thanks in advance.
I wish you the best,
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you! I will.
Expert:  LawTalk replied 2 years ago.
I'm sorry, I don't understand----- you will what? Rate me? I would appreciate that. To rate me you simply need to click on the stars rating icon on the page--and I hope that I have earned a 5 star rating from you.
Thanks in advance,