What’s the most important factor when filing for Social Security?
As one 66-year-old woman recently learned, it’s not always how you file your claim. Perhaps what’s most important is who handles it. Over the next two minutes, Steve McDonald gives the full story.
Here’s a great story about filing for Social Security benefits and some tips about how to do it right.
A widowed and divorced woman, who also worked most of her life and contributed to Social Security, recently filed for her benefits. At 66, she decided it was time to hang it up and filed for her full benefits online. It seemed easy enough.
But after she filed, she received a call from a representative at Social Security who informed her she had three options for filing, not just the one she took. She was eligible for her own benefits, obviously at 66. She could also get her deceased husband’s and her divorced husband’s, too.
As it turned out, she was eligible to claim her deceased husband’s funds at 100% of the benefit at her current age, which is higher than what she would have received at her full retirement age – 66 – from her own funds.
The option available from her divorced husband’s benefits were also available. But they would have been capped at 50%.
So then she was informed she could also, at age 70, shift to her own benefits, which will have been the highest of all three possibilities – 32% higher than if she had taken it when she originally filed.
Until I read the article about this woman, I was totally unaware you could get any of a divorced spouse’s benefits. But check with Social Security for the details to see if you qualify. I can’t go into the particulars.
You have mere days before the company with a monopoly on this technology blasts off.
But all the options aside, the most important part of this scenario wasn’t that she could shift to her own higher benefits at age 70, even though she had been receiving somebody else’s benefits for a number of years. Or that she was eligible for her divorced husband’s benefits.
No, the amazing part of this story is that it was a Social Security employee who took the initiative to tell her about the options.
It seems who handles your claims may be the single most important variable when filing.
Social Security is one of the most complex bureaucracies in our government. Well, maybe not as twisted as our tax code. But that’s for another time.
Before you file, take the time to sit down with an agency rep and make sure you are getting the most you can. And know what your options are down the road.
We are talking about a lot of money here and one of our biggest money decisions in retirement. Don’t rush it and don’t assume anything.