Electing Early Social Security Retirement Benefits – Part 4

Jennifer’s Thoughts


If you become disabled at or after age 62 and have not yet retired, is it better to apply for Social Security disability benefits or early retirement benefits?

If you’re unable to work because of illness or injury at any age, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Although there is a five-month waiting period for benefits, once you begin receiving benefits you will receive 100 percent of your primary insurance amount (PIA). Even though there is no waiting period for early retirement benefits, you will receive only 70 to 75 percent of your PIA (depending on your normal retirement age) if you begin collecting retirement benefits at age 62. In addition, once you have disability status, you will be eligible for a trial work period. You have nine months to try to work and still receive your disability benefit. If you retire early, you can always go back to work, but your earnings may reduce or eliminate your benefit. However, be aware that qualifying for Social Security disability benefits may be difficult.

If you want to elect delayed retirement benefits and you are married, does this mean that your spouse won’t be able to elect early retirement benefits?

Not exactly. Your spouse can begin collecting Social Security retirement benefits based on his or her own earnings record at age 62, whether or not you are retired. However, if your spouse wants to base his or her benefit on your earnings record, he or she has to wait until you retire to begin receiving benefits.

How will your spouse’s benefit be affected if you elect to receive early retirement benefits but your spouse is already at normal retirement age and wants to receive benefits based on your PIA?

Your spouse’s benefit will not be reduced if you retire early. A spouse’s retirement benefit is only reduced if the spouse is under normal retirement age and decides to receive retirement benefits early. Because your spouse is already normal retirement age, his or her benefit will be 50 percent of your PIA, the same benefit he or she would receive if you retired at normal retirement age.

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Will your dependent child receive less benefit if you elect early retirement benefits than he or she would if you retired at normal retirement age?

No. If you retire early, your child will receive a benefit equal to 50 percent of your PIA, the same benefit he or she will receive if you retire at normal retirement age.

Article courtesy of Forefield.Securities offered through NPB Financial Group, LLC. A Registered Investment Advisor/Broker-Dealer Member FINRA, MSRB, and SIPC


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