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Contributor

It may not pay to wait until 70 to collect SS, even if you can afford to do it

I would advise anyone at or near retirement age to go to this ssa page and download the detailed retirement calculator anypia.com.

 

https://www.ssa.gov/oact/anypia/index.html

 

Through using this calculator, I have found that there is an "MFB" (Maximum Family Benefit) amount that cannot be exceeded when collecting SS.  Additionally, after calculating my benefit for each year of my age from 66 to 70, and adding my wife's spousal benefit, I reach the MFB at age 69.  Even though the MFB increases with any cost of living increase, your SS benefits increase by the same percentage.  Therefore, once your benefits meet or exceed the MFB, you cannot collect any additional benefits (unless something reduces your benefit before you file, like the death of your spouse).

 

In my case, if I waited until 70 to file for SS, my wife and I would lose about $60,000 in benefits vs filing at 69. 

 

It definately pays to understand all of the rules of SS, and to calculate your potential benefits yourself.  Do not rely on a SS employee alone to give you every option.  For instance, for the many times we have been to the SS office asking many questions, we did not know until recently (from an on-line artice) that my wife could claim her full SS benefit while I take her spousal benefit, and then later switch to claiming my full benefit (much greater than hers), while she claims her spousal benefit (1/2 of my full benefit).  Her spousal benefit does not increase, however, after I turn 66 (my full retirement age).

 

You need to do the research yourself and find your optimal SS strategy.  Do not rely solely on your local SS office to do it for you.

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Regular Contributor

It appears the MFB only applies to families that have 3 or more claiments so this may not apply to you.

 

Excerpt:

SSA's family maximum rules are complex and affect beneficiaries in different ways, depending on their earnings levels and benefit types. In particular, the rules that apply to disability beneficiary families differ significantly from those that apply to retirement and survivor beneficiary families. Our findings include the following:

  • The disabled family maximum affects many more families and a wider range of family sizes than the retirement and survivor family maximum because more restrictive rules apply to disability benefits.
  • Retirement and survivor beneficiary families are not affected by the family maximum rules unless three or more family members receive benefits; when those beneficiary families are affected, auxiliary beneficiaries (or auxiliaries) always receive partial benefits.
  • Disability beneficiary families, by contrast, sometimes lose all of their auxiliary benefits, even in cases where only one family member qualifies. All disability families with three or more beneficiaries are affected by the family maximum and more than half of families with two beneficiaries are affected.
  • Among families affected by the family maximum, reductions can be substantial. For affected disabled-worker families, we estimate that the median reduction is about 33 percent; for survivor families, about 23 percent; for retired-worker families, about 14 percent. For some family members of disabled workers, the family maximum rules prevent a benefit from being paid at all.

https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v75n3/v75n3p1.html

Silver Conversationalist

I was really excited to see your post; I just spent my entire weekend running the anypia32 program for my situation and to study some points with the Delayed Retirement Credits. I have found barely any consumer discussion of the program.

I ran some cases to check what you described. I ran anypia32 (2019.1 version) for a case where the annual income was maxed out for all of the working years (more than the 35), insured had FRA at 66 but drew benefits at 70, slightly younger spouse drew at FRA of 66 so no reduction. The reported benefits appeared correct based on my prior work (I leveraged this example off my own situation) and indeed! the sum of the age 70 benefit with DRC plus the full spousal benefit was slightly more than the reported MFB but the program did not report any consequent reduction. I could force a reduction by adding an imaginary child beneficiary under 18 yo.

I think the answer is found in a "Ask Larry" column (Professor Laurence Kotlikoff of Boston University, a reknowned Social Security expert, and author of some great software). See this:
https://maximizemysocialsecurity.com/can-you-exceed-family-maximum-benefit-if-you-are-receiving-dela...

He says "Yes. Even if a person receives a benefit rate higher than their primary insurance amount (PIA) due to delayed retirement credits (DRC), only the PIA is deducted from the family maximum benefit (FMB) when determining benefit rates for family members (https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0300615695)."


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Contributor

Very interesting.  This is additional information not readily available to the public.  So it sounds like I could exceed the MFB, and still claim the larger benefit at age 70.  Of course, I need to independently verify this.

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Silver Conversationalist

Have you looked at how the increase for each month's delay (the 2/3 of 1%) is credited? Only in January of each year? This came as a shock to me this weekend, I had never heard of this before...all the press articles drum home the 8% per year increase for DRC but don't dip into the details.

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