Question about SS for my Dad

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I-Know-Nothing
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Question about SS for my Dad

Post by I-Know-Nothing »

I have been reading some posts on Bogleheads, and I am not sure if my Dad has used the “right” strategy regarding SS. I spoke to him, and he isn’t either. I have advised him to call SS and ask, but in the meantime here are the details.

He was born in 1952 and is 69. He was married for 10 years between 1999 and 2009. He started taking his SS benefit in 2016, at age 64. He held off from doing it at 62, but needed the money at 64. It’s around $1,200 a month. He also gets a small pension of about $400 and works a part-time job which brings in another $800 or so a month. He is in decent shape physically and is doing well mentally. He is actually fine on his $2,400 a month income, and says it is plenty to do everything he wants. This situation could easily change though - if he couldn’t live where he’s living or do his part-time job anymore.

He believes his ex-wife worked until 67, and her SS benefits would have been significantly higher than his, but probably not twice as high. He didn’t think he would have qualified for any SS benefits from her, but I don’t think that’s true. From everything I’m seeing online, he probably should have tried to get a 50% spousal benefit from her SS at age 62 (if he could have gotten by on that amount), and then let his benefit grow until age 70 and switched to his benefit at 70. It’s too late for that option though. He can’t give the money he has received back and change what he’s doing now, right? I mean, he doesn’t have the money for that, but even if I gave it to him, he wouldn’t be able to do it? Is there anything to be done at this point? I guess if she dies before him, he could switch to her higher benefit?
Tom_T
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Re: Question about SS for my Dad

Post by Tom_T »

He can't change his mind now, it's way too late. he would have had to do it within 12 months of filing.

He might be able to apply for spousal benefits now.
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Watty
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Re: Question about SS for my Dad

Post by Watty »

The big issue is to find out what sort of Social Security he can get on his ex-wife's account so it would be good for him to go check with Social Security to find out just what those numbers look like. Normally I would suggest that he go into a Social Security office but I am not sure how that is working in a the pandemic. She does not need to die for him to be able to make a claim using her earning history.

Since he seems to still be in good health he should probably try to work more while he can.
Penguin
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Re: Question about SS for my Dad

Post by Penguin »

When Dad applied for retirement benefits at age 64 in 2016 he was deemed to apply for spouse benefits at that time and would be receiving that benefit today if it were higher than his retirement benefit.
https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200204035
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pshonore
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Re: Question about SS for my Dad

Post by pshonore »

Penguin wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 9:51 am When Dad applied for retirement benefits at age 64 in 2016 he was deemed to apply for spouse benefits at that time and would be receiving that benefit today if it were higher than his retirement benefit.
https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200204035
Since he was born in 1952, could he not have applied only for his own benefit?
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RickBoglehead
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Re: Question about SS for my Dad

Post by RickBoglehead »

Penguin wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 9:51 am When Dad applied for retirement benefits at age 64 in 2016 he was deemed to apply for spouse benefits at that time and would be receiving that benefit today if it were higher than his retirement benefit.
https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200204035
That's assuming that Social Security connected the dots and knew they were married.
Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.
Penguin
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Re: Question about SS for my Dad

Post by Penguin »

RickBoglehead wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 10:02 am
Penguin wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 9:51 am When Dad applied for retirement benefits at age 64 in 2016 he was deemed to apply for spouse benefits at that time and would be receiving that benefit today if it were higher than his retirement benefit.
https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200204035
That's assuming that Social Security connected the dots and knew they were married.
Good point, Rick. They are supposed to do that but mistakes happen.
Another option for your Dad that you may consider. If he has assets that he can spend down or can borrow money or earn more then he can voluntarily suspend his social security benefits and receive delayed retirement credits of about 8% per year until age 70 when he can resume his benefits.
https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0202409110
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I-Know-Nothing
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Re: Question about SS for my Dad

Post by I-Know-Nothing »

RickBoglehead wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 10:02 am
Penguin wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 9:51 am When Dad applied for retirement benefits at age 64 in 2016 he was deemed to apply for spouse benefits at that time and would be receiving that benefit today if it were higher than his retirement benefit.
https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200204035
That's assuming that Social Security connected the dots and knew they were married.
I don’t think he provided any paperwork or info about his marriage when he applied. Would SS have known about that marriage anyway?
Topic Author
I-Know-Nothing
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Re: Question about SS for my Dad

Post by I-Know-Nothing »

Penguin wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 10:14 am
RickBoglehead wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 10:02 am
Penguin wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 9:51 am When Dad applied for retirement benefits at age 64 in 2016 he was deemed to apply for spouse benefits at that time and would be receiving that benefit today if it were higher than his retirement benefit.
https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200204035
That's assuming that Social Security connected the dots and knew they were married.
Good point, Rick. They are supposed to do that but mistakes happen.
Another option for your Dad that you may consider. If he has assets that he can spend down or can borrow money or earn more then he can voluntarily suspend his social security benefits and receive delayed retirement credits of about 8% per year until age 70 when he can resume his benefits.
https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0202409110
Thank you. He does have some savings and could probably make this work. I think it would be a good idea, but I don’t think he’ll go for it. He is nervous about spending down his small amount of savings. I will suggest it though.
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RickBoglehead
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Re: Question about SS for my Dad

Post by RickBoglehead »

I-Know-Nothing wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 10:29 am
RickBoglehead wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 10:02 am
Penguin wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 9:51 am When Dad applied for retirement benefits at age 64 in 2016 he was deemed to apply for spouse benefits at that time and would be receiving that benefit today if it were higher than his retirement benefit.
https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200204035
That's assuming that Social Security connected the dots and knew they were married.
I don’t think he provided any paperwork or info about his marriage when he applied. Would SS have known about that marriage anyway?
Who knows? When you apply, you're supposed to bring your proof of marriage. Since he didn't likely do that, maybe they don't know.
Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.
Topic Author
I-Know-Nothing
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Re: Question about SS for my Dad

Post by I-Know-Nothing »

RickBoglehead wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 10:38 am
I-Know-Nothing wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 10:29 am
RickBoglehead wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 10:02 am
Penguin wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 9:51 am When Dad applied for retirement benefits at age 64 in 2016 he was deemed to apply for spouse benefits at that time and would be receiving that benefit today if it were higher than his retirement benefit.
https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200204035
That's assuming that Social Security connected the dots and knew they were married.
I don’t think he provided any paperwork or info about his marriage when he applied. Would SS have known about that marriage anyway?
Who knows? When you apply, you're supposed to bring your proof of marriage. Since he didn't likely do that, maybe they don't know.
Ok, thank you. This was his 4th marriage, but the only one over 10 years. I don’t think he provided info about any of the marriages, probably because he thought it wasn’t relevant. I will ask him for clarification.
Penguin
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Re: Question about SS for my Dad

Post by Penguin »

pshonore wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 9:58 am
Penguin wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 9:51 am When Dad applied for retirement benefits at age 64 in 2016 he was deemed to apply for spouse benefits at that time and would be receiving that benefit today if it were higher than his retirement benefit.
https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200204035
Since he was born in 1952, could he not have applied only for his own benefit?
b. DOB is prior to January 2, 1954

Deemed filing applies:


To reduced RIB and AUXSPO benefits (claimant is under FRA), and


Only when eligibility for the second benefit (for example AUXSPO) exists in the month of entitlement to the first benefit (for example RIB).
I think this means that he had deemed filing. Am I wrong?
Well, maybe I am wrong. Dad would only have been eligible for divorced spouse benefit if his ex wife was over age 62 when he applied for his retirement benefit.
https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0300202005
Jon
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Eagle33
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Re: Question about SS for my Dad

Post by Eagle33 »

He can't undue what he did after 12 months. But he is past FRA and has the option to suspend current benefits then start them up again at 70.

He needs to keep tabs on when ex spouse dies so he can claim her higher survivor benefits. This is true even if ex remarried. Both the widower and your father can claim the same survivor benefit. There is some stipulation about your father not remarrying between the divorce and when he turned 60.
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Jablean
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Re: Question about SS for my Dad

Post by Jablean »

He needs to keep both marriage certificate and divorce decree. SS will ask if/when he goes for survivor benefits.
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JoeRetire
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Re: Question about SS for my Dad

Post by JoeRetire »

I-Know-Nothing wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 5:47 am I have been reading some posts on Bogleheads, and I am not sure if my Dad has used the “right” strategy regarding SS. I spoke to him, and he isn’t either. I have advised him to call SS and ask
SS won't give strategy advice.
He can’t give the money he has received back and change what he’s doing now, right?
Right.
Is there anything to be done at this point? I guess if she dies before him, he could switch to her higher benefit?
Assuming he isn't remarried at the time of her death, that is correct.
Just remember: it's not a lie if you believe it.
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JoeRetire
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Re: Question about SS for my Dad

Post by JoeRetire »

Penguin wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 9:51 am When Dad applied for retirement benefits at age 64 in 2016 he was deemed to apply for spouse benefits at that time and would be receiving that benefit today if it were higher than his retirement benefit.
https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200204035
That would be true if and only if his ex-spouse was already collecting her own benefits at the time Dad applied for his benefits.
Just remember: it's not a lie if you believe it.
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