Content starts here

When to start benefits.... Going on 66 but with a younger wife and 2 year old (spouse/dependent)

Hi All.  I'm trying to find a calculator or someone with knowledge to help with this math problem.  Lol. 


Husband turns 66 in November.  I am 51.  We have a 2 year old. 


I've been reading about dependent benefits until a child is 18 and spousal benefits for caring for the child until the child is 16.   We are trying to decide if husband should retire this year at 66 so we can start getting the family benefit or if it makes sense for him to work till 70 so he can claim higher amounts and thus I'll have a higher amount too since I'm a younger spouse. 


His statement says benefits are:

at 66, $2,674/month

at 70 $3,530 a month


Total Family benefits cannot be more than $4,681.


I believe the child is entitled to 50% of the retiree benefit, as is the spouse caring for the child, up to some maximum figure.  Is this the figure they use on the statement or does something else calcuate the max? I've seen references to maximum family benefit is from 150% to 180% of PIA.


I've looked at lots of calculators but none really seem to take into account the scenario of a retiree with a toddler and younger wife. 


It's all hurting my brain and we want to make the right decision obviously to maximize payouts.


Thanks for any info or referrals.







I know this is old but I am needing the same info as you. Please let me know if you figured it out. I am going to try and apply in about 2 months.


Thanks Dave

0 Kudos
Gold Conversationalist



Ahoy, Dave!   My situation is that I am 11+ years older than my wife but there are no children in the picture; young kids would certainly add a higher level of seriousness to the consideration of when to take Social Security and how long to work. My wife and I were married when I was around 48.


My wife does not work due to health. I didn't want to leave a poor widow, so I crunched a lot of numbers for us for retirement planning. Using a complex spreadsheet, I was surprised to see that the risk for my wife of being 'poor' was if I died "early", before she was eligible for SS benefits, rather than if I died "late", having lived a long life of consuming her inheritance. Based on this I increased my plans for term life insurance to extend within a month of her 62 birthday, at which time we plan for her to take spousal benefits. 


Of course, I could die before she's 62 and she could collect survivor's benefits at age 60, but I felt that the reduction in benefit at 60 was too much of a hit. For the OP's case, and possibly for yours, survivor's benefits begin at age 60 ...unless the surviving spouse is disabled, then it's 50, or if the surviving spouse is taking care of young children then age is immaterial (as long as the kids are "young"...)


 The other tactic I used in our planning in addition to good term life insurance was to plan on taking my SS benefit at age 70 to maximize the dollar amount. My widow will get my entire benefit including the "Delayed Retirement Benefit" of the 32% increase over my age 66 (FRA for me) benefit (unless she takes this benefit before her own FRA of 67, in which case there will be a reduction in her benefit based on her age).


It is a tough nut to be 66 or 67 and contemplate working several more years to age 70. I did not, myself, even though I long thought that I would do so. I quit working at 66 and a month, then we lived off savings for the 4 years until I took SS at age 70. Granted, not everyone may be able to do this. But anyone with a much younger wife and possibly has young children will have to consider all this and determine if they want to work until 70 or not, or some in-between age between FRA and 70,


This so far has worked for me and my wife. Should I die next week she will be well provided for.

I have also read of people taking a different approach, and considering more from the viewpoint of the younger spouse. If the younger spouse is working they may want to consider "retiring" (stop working, at least for a while) when the older spouse retires. This is so they can spend some quality retirement years together before the elder spouse gets too old to travel, etc, etc. The flip side of that is they then potentially reduce their own possible SS retirement benefit and could be consigned to poverty when they are an elderly widow(er). The financial case has to be considered.


Lots to think about and consider.


Good luck!. 


0 Kudos

Anyone have any tools to help figure this out?  I was reading about the Maximize My Social Security calculator and household planner for $40/year. Anyone tried that?  Is it any good? 

0 Kudos
Gold Conversationalist





Speaking of the 'Maximize My Social Security' software, I suggest taking a look at its big brother, the Maxifi software, published by the same team. Maxifi is a much more powerful software that considers the entirety of ones income and expenses, and considers this over pretty much your lifetime. Its goal is to optimize your earnings, spending, and savings over those many years.


Engineers might call this "load leveling", which pretty much spells it out. The concept has always been clear to me and is pretty exciting when applied to personal finances.


Maxifi would be something that you would want to subscribe to on an ongoing basis because your situation may vary over time.


There are other similar software applications out there, some available only to professional financial advisors. But I don't think any of them surpass what Maxifi can do for you.


The alternative is to spend mind-numbing hours poring over spreadsheets and references on investing, taxes, etc. Some people like that sort of thing, probably not for most people. I do actually but I sort of wish I'd gotten into Maxifi years ago.

0 Kudos
Gold Conversationalist


I'm sure you are long past this point due to the age of the post. But for other readers...


I used "MMSS" about 7 years ago and found it useful. I only used it for the one-year subscription, it's really something that you only need to run once (or a number of times to make a study of this, but pretty much in a relatively short span of time). There's little point (in my view) of re-subscribing each year. That is, unless you are not yet collecting SS and your income suddenly takes a huge leap (up or down), enough to affect your future benefits.

I have great respect for the author of MMSS, Professor Kotlikoff from Boston University. He long had the "Ask Larry" column in various media (print, television, even AARP) which is a great resource (people submit their SS questions and woes and he replies (


An excellent alternative to MMSS is the free Open Social Security calculator, The author, Mike Piper, is a noted author on SS and related personal finance topics. His software is top notch too...and it's free!


0 Kudos
Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Need to Know

Cyber Week Sale! Join or renew for just $9 per year - $45 billed at the time of a purchase with a 5-year membership.
Join or renew
and get a FREE gift!

AARP Membership Cyber Week Sale

More From AARP