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Question I am 64 and plan on working until I am 70. My wife is 63 and has not worked for 15 years. Also we have 2 adopted children ages 18 and 8. What are my wife's options to start collecting benifits now?   Answer Did she pay into the SS system while she was working? If she worked for a government agency — federal, state or local — sometimes they are outside the system, and other rules would apply.   Social Security retirement benefits are based on a person's earnings record over their working years. A person needs at least 40 credits (10 years of work for most Americans) to qualify for retirement benefits, and the 35 years with your highest earnings count toward your benefit level.   If she did pay into the SS sytem while she was working, worked long enough to be vested, and had substantial earnings, she should be able to get her own benefit — probably a small one because of these last 15 years, i.e., not working. It would also be reduced because she is filing earlier than her full retirement age.   She should register at the mySocialSecurity website and see her statement. - My Account Registration   Don't think she will get anything for the kids since you are still working.   Once you retire (70), she may want to switch to her spousal benefit which will be 1/2 of yours — but it is 1/2 of only your full retirement benefit and not the extra you will be getting due to working until 70, IF that is higher than her own benefit. By then the 18-year-old will be out of the dependent picture due to age, but you may get a bonus for a few years on the younger one.   She can also go to a local Social Security office and get the figures from them and make a decision — the mySocialSecurity account would be easier, and it will also block anybody else from filing for her benefit fraudently. Keep the info when she sets it up. 
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Question For a couple that is married for 10 years, if the husband pays into Social Security for those 10 years while his spouse does not work, when they get divorced, is the non-working ex-spouse eligibible for Social Security benefits (because  the marriage lasted 10 years )?    If the husband keeps working for years after the divorce, will the ex-spouse's benefit amount be impacted?     Answer The divorced spouse, if all the eligibility requirements are met, is entitled to 50% of the ex-spouse's benefit at retirement age as long as her own benefit, if she qualifies for one, is not greater than this amount.   Social Security - Divorced Spouse Benefits   All the other rules for benefits still apply — early filing, full retirement age, etc. If the ex-spouse keeps working until he is 70 — to earn a higher benefit for himself than he would have gotten at his FULL Retirement age, it does not count towards any sort of spousal benefit — married or divorced.   Question  This is assuming the ex-wife will not work in U.S. and will have zero Social Security credits, the husband's post-divorce payments into Social Security will grow the ex-wife's Social Security benefit amount, right?    Answer  As long as all eligibility rules apply (see the link), her full retirement age divorced spouse benefit will be 50% of his benefit at full retirement age. If he continues to work past his full retirement age to age 70, she will get none of this benefit bonus.   If she wants these divorced spouse benefits received while she is living outside the U.S., that has more rules of its own. 
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Question I just turned 62 and applied to start collecting my checks early. My first one will arrive next month. I am still working, but now my doctor is talking about putting me on disability due to some medical issues. So if that happens and my checks have already started, will the amount go up to the amount you would receive when on disibility or will it stay the amount collected at 62?   Answer You perhaps need to talk to SSA before beginning your early retirement benefit.   Being declared disabled by the SSA, you would get 100% of your retirement benefit as your SSDI amount. Filing early (at 62, or earlier than your Full Retirement Age) for your old age SS retirement benefit, you will get a reduced retirement benefit because you are filing for it early — and it will continue to stay reduced forever by the calculated "reduction factor"..   If you get disability benefits — which are your full benefit — at your full retirement age, the amount will not change but the classification of it will change from SSDI to SSOAI (from Social Security Disability Insurance to Social Security Old Age Insurance).   However, you cannot just file for disability and get it. It has to be approved by the SSA — sometimes a very long process depending upon your medical condition and diagnosis. Now certain medical conditions or being terminally ill can make this disability qualification pretty much a certainty. Here are the medical conditions which the SSA approves pretty readily. If your disease is not listed, you can submit it for consideration. SSA: Compassionate Allowance Conditions   The thing about disability is the approval might take a while depending upon your condition. If one of the above Compassionate Allowance Conditions isn't met or you are not terminally ill, you might not get approval at all. Also keep in mind, depending upon your condition, they may also make a ruling to see if you could work again at some job that does not tax your health — although for people over 60, that is not too much of a deal.   Once the disability claim is approved, there is a lag time of about 5 months from the last time you had income from employment to begin disability benefits.   I am pretty sure there is a way to file for both at the same time and get the early retirement benefit started — then if you are finally approved for disability, there are some cost adjustments done by the SSA. You would need to work closely with the SSA to handle all of this so as to not get caught up in government complexity — need I say more? The calculations would be based on your paying back the early retirement amount to be offset against the (whatever) disability award and how far back they go with it. It is this part for which you need to visit your local SSA office and talk to a knowledgeable person about it. If you consider this, you might want to hold off on the early retirement application.
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Question I receive none of my husbands benefit since I have a pension from driving a school bus. He ran his own business and paid into the system BOTH parts for 24 years before he passed with cancer. I still work and must work to maintain what little we have. A $236 check from SSI after medicare and my $900 check after taxes for the pension leaves little without working. The federal pensioners receive SSI if they had earned it. Why don't state pensioners?     Answer As a widow/widower or spouse with a government pension from a federal, state or local government who did NOT participate in the Social Security system, you are being affected by the Social Security - Government Pension Offset It affects both Social Security spousal benefits as well as widow/widower benefits.   If you receive a pension from a government job in which you did not pay Social Security taxes, some or all of your Social Security spouse's, widow's, or widower's benefit may be offset due to receipt of that pension. This offset is referred to as the Government Pension Offset, or GPO.   The GPO reduces the amount of your Social Security spouse's, widow's, or widower's benefits by two-thirds of the amount of your government pension. For example, if you receive a monthly civil service pension of $600, two-thirds of that, or $400, must be used to offset your Social Security spouse's, widow's, or widower's benefits. If you are eligible for a $500 spouse's benefit, you will receive $100 per month from Social Security ($500 - $400 = $100).   Some individuals are exempt from the offset. Generally, your Social Security benefits as a spouse, widow, or widower will not be reduced if you: Are receiving a government pension that is not based on your earnings; or Are a federal (including Civil Service Offset), state, or local government employee whose government pension is based on a job where you were paying Social Security taxes; and You filed for and were entitled to spouse's, widow's, or widower's benefits before April 1, 2004; Your last day of employment (that your pension is based on) is before July 1, 2004; or You paid Social Security taxes on your earnings during the last 60 months of government service. (Under certain conditions, fewer than 60 months may be required for people whose last day of employment falls after June 30, 2004, and before March 2, 2009.) The Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision reduces the Social Security benefits of the person who has earned it with some work covered by Social Security but not enough to give them a full benefit and they also have a government job with a government pension where they were not covered by Social Security.   More information: Social Security Administration pamphlet - Government Pension Offset:   There is a lot more conversation on each of these provisions under the board here entitled "Social Security".  AARP Community Board: Social Security 
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