Will this maximize Social Security spousal benefits?

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Q. In your recent article about Social Security, you explained different scenarios for spousal benefits. What would happen if the couple – Elizabeth and Andrew – waited for Andrew to claim his benefits at 70 and Elizabeth claimed at her full retirement age (FRA)? Does Elizabeth get her FRA benefit and half of the difference of Andrew’s FRA or half the difference of his benefit at 70?
— Figuring it out

A. We all want to maximize our Social Security benefits, so nice try.

But spousal benefits do not continue to accrue past full retirement age (FRA).

“There is no benefit to delaying them,” said Dann Ryan, a certified financial planner with Sincerus Advisory in North Wildwood. “In this example, the spousal benefit that Elizabeth would receive would be based on one half of Andrew’s FRA benefit amount regardless of whether he begins taking his benefit at FRA or delaying until 70.”

Ryan said depending on the benefit amounts, there remains the consideration of allowing Elizabeth’s personal benefit to accrue until age 70 before taking that instead. However, she cannot access just her spousal benefit while allowing her own benefit to grow, Ryan said.

“This is the `deemed filing’ rule previously explained,” he said. “Of course, a break even of the numbers for your specific situation would need to be analyzed.”

If you’re not already working with a financial advisor, Ryan recommends you contact Social Security directly. The office will be helpful at considering all your options and find the best solution for your situation, he said.

Email your questions to moc.p1603351870leHye1603351870noMJN1603351870@ksA1603351870.

This story was originally published on April 5, 2019.

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