Jane, the earnings test applies to the spouse only if he is working and younger than full retirement age.
Our next question is from Steve.
Jane, you must be at full retirement age to file and suspend so that your husband can receive a spousal benefit.
Steve, we'll check the answer to your question.
Thanks, Susan. We'll get back to you, Steve.
Here's a question from Ed.
File and suspend is a great strategy for a "traditional" couple where one spouse has little or no work history. The lower earner can't claim a spousal benefit until the higher earner claims his. So he files and immediately suspends. She can claim the spousal benefit and then he waits until 70 to collect his full benefit. That maximizes household income as well as the survivor benefit. Even if he suspends, she can continue to get the spousal benefit.
Ed, the short answer is no.
Note, to file and suspend, the higher earner must be at full retirement age. So Ed, you can use that strategy once you turn 66.
Great strategy. Thanks, Susan.
Alright. We probably have time for two more questions.
Yes, she can. The earnings test no longer applies once you hit full retirement age.
Here's a question from Bob.
The best time is for her to wait until 66 to claim her survivor benefit. If she claims earlier, it will be reduced somewhat.
Alright, and here's one last question before we're out of time.
I just wanted to clarify some of the answers we gave earlier on survivor benefits. It's best for the higher earner to wait to claim benefits to maximize survivor benefits. But the survivor needs to wait until full retirement age to get the full survivor benefit. She can claim at 60, but her benefit will be reduced by about 28%.
Unmarried children younger than 18 can receive survivor benefits. Any estimate provided by the Social Security Administration is based on a person's earnings record, but it is just an estimate.
Let’s say PIA is $1,000 at 66
At 65, you’d get 93.3% of that amount, or $933.
Over 12 months, you’d get a total of $11,196.
Question is how many months would it take the $67 a month higher benefit to make up for delaying to age 66
Answer: 167 months, about 14 years. Breakeven happens just before 80th birthday. Live beyond 80 and you’ll get more cash out of the system by waiting until age 66 to claim.
Great! There's your answer Mike :)
Mike, I just sent you a revised answer on your question about breakeven. PIA means your full retirement age payment.
One more strategy: If you're an older parent and receiving benefits, your minor child is eligible for a benefit until age 18 or high school graduation, whichever is later.
Alright, I think Rachel is just wrapping up a response to Jackie's question. Then, unfortunately it looks like we're out of time, folks.
Thank you to all of those who joined us, and a special thanks to Susan and Rachel for sharing their expertise with us!
It's a subscription-only publication with some great information about retirement.
And finally, for those of you whom we promised to get back to, please feel free to e-mail me at alilly@kiplinger. We’ll get back to you as soon as Susan and Rachel can confirm the answers.
Thanks for joining us all!