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Retirement Planning/should I earn 4 more credits?

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Question
My age: 59
Husband's age: 54
Older son's age: 19 (currently in college and quickly depleting our savings)
Younger son's age: 11

My husband has, by far, the better earnings record, and has reached the 40 credit threshold.  I am at 36, currently not employed.  I'm trying to decide whether to go back to work in order to get to the 40 credit mark.

I read that when a worker retires, the child and the spouse can each receive 50% of the worker's benefit.  On the other hand, if the worker retires earlier than the full retirement age (66 in my case), then the benefits are reduced FOREVER.

It's not clear to me whether my husband qualifies as being someone who cares for a child under 16, since he works full time.  Perhaps that doesn't matter?

Here's what I'm thinking: if I earn 4 more credits and then apply for retirement at age 62, then my husband and my son can both receive benefits.  If this is correct, then it would seem to me to be advantageous to earn the 4 remaining credits.

Would my family still receive benefits even if I file and suspend?  Is there any advantage in my case to suspending?

If I file at 62 and do not suspend, will the reduction in benefit also apply to my husband (as caretaker of our son) and to my son?

If I file at 62 and do not suspend, will that reduce the spousal benefit I receive later (based on my husband's earnings record)?

I hope you understand my questions.  Thank you very much.

Answer
Children do not receive a benefit when their parent retires. The only benefit a child would receive would be a survivor benefit if a parent dies. This benefit is for unmarried children under age 18 or 19 if they are still in high school.

A spouse can receive a benefit equal to 50% of their spouses retirement benefit but you would both have to be at least 62. So if you  turned 62 and didn't have enough credits to collect, you would have to wait until he turns at least 62 to collect half of his benefit.

I would say your best bet would be to get the other 4 credits so that you can collect SS and then when you husband reaches retirement age, you could collect either 50% of his benefit or your own benefit, whichever is greater. So if your benefit was, let's say $400 and his was $1000, you would be able to collect $500 based on 50% 0f his benefit.

Here are a couple of links where you can find more info:

http://www.ssa.gov/retire2/yourspouse.htm

http://www.ssa.gov/pgm/survivors.htm

I hope this helps. Good luck!

Dave  

Retirement Planning

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David M Iannopollo

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