Retirement age maximizes benefits. Rules for taking out spouse’s benefit, divorced & widowed, & claiming benefits. Rolf Neuweiler A2ZCFO(image: social security)

Tips for social security claims benefits

Wait until full retirement age will maximize benefits amount

The general rule of thumb is that if you postpone taking social security benefits until after your full retirement age, you will receive a higher monthly benefit.  But after reaching full retirement age, there is no more gain from delaying claims.

Remember, the earliest a person can start receiving Social Security retirement benefits will remain age 62.

Here’s how it works if your full retirement age is 67 (if you are born in 1960):

  • If you start your retirement benefits at age 62, your monthly benefit amount is reduced by about 30 percent. The reduction for starting benefits at age
    • 63 is about 25 percent;
    • 64 is about 20 percent;
    • 65 is about 13.3 percent; and
    • 66 is about 6.7 percent.
  • If you start receiving spouse’s benefits at age 62, your monthly benefit amount is reduced to about 32.5 percent of the amount your spouse would receive if their benefits started at full retirement age. (The reduction is about 67.5 percent.) The reduction for starting benefits as a spouse at age
    • 63 is about 65 percent;
    • 64 is about 62.5 percent;
    • 65 is about 58.3 percent;
    • 66 is about 54.2 percent; and
    • 67 is 50 percent (the maximum benefit amount).

Rules for taking out a spouse’s benefit, divorced and widowed

You’re eligible to take either all of your own benefit or half of your spouse’s benefit, whichever is higher. This also applies if you’re divorced but were married for at least ten years.

If you are widowed, you have the option to collect survivor benefits — which you can start as early as age 60, but to get 100% of the social security benefits of a deceased spouse (who can also be the ex-spouse from a divorce), you need to wait until full retirement age of 67.  Use the calculators on the Social Security Administration website to find out how to get the largest benefit due to you.

Continue to work after collecting benefits

  • Your benefits will be reduced if you are taking out benefits before full retirement age while earning more than certain amount specified by Social Security Administration.
  • At full retirement age, you can earn as much as you like without reducing your full social security benefits amount.

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