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2 Social Security tricks

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Posted: 5 pm ET

The new retirement planning mantra is: work longer, expect less.

If this is the retirement scenario that you're facing, here are two suggestions for improving your situation:

Dependent children can get Social Security, too. If you are a parent who had children late in life, don't overlook what some people call "the Viagra benefit."

If you are eligible for Social Security and have dependent children younger than age 18 (or 19 and still in high school), they can file and collect up to half your benefit monthly. Biological children, adopted children and dependent stepchildren can qualify. In some cases, grandchildren also are eligible -- for instance, if you've formally adopted them.

The household maximum -- if there are several children -- is 180 percent of the eligible parent's full benefit amount. Each child's benefit will be reduced proportionately.

File for spousal benefits. Filing for spousal benefits allows you to collect half of your spouse's benefit while allowing  your own benefit to grow 8 percent a year until age 70.  Try to get a return that good anywhere else.

Generally, you must be full retirement age to take advantage of this. Full retirement age is 66 for those born between 1943 and 1954. (This also works for people who are currently unmarried, but who have an ex-spouse to whom they were married for at least 10 years.)

For example, when I turn 66 in four years, I can file a "restricted application for a spousal benefit" allowing me to draw one-half of my husband's benefit while I continue to earn delayed retirement credits based on my own earnings record until age 70.

My accountant husband says I should put this money in our investment account. At age 70, I can then take my maximum Social Security benefit. This is just one of many strategies available to married couples. It's one way to make your Social Security benefit work harder if you plan to work longer.

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mihaela bilic carte
March 10, 2014 at 10:34 am

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February 08, 2014 at 2:54 pm

I was married for 18 years. He is 5 years younger than me. I took SS at 62 due to financial reasons. When he is 62 next January and having received my own SS benefit, would it be in my best interest to take his. If I wait until he is older is it better and should I take it, and what percentage of his will I have to live on?

Gale Williams
February 05, 2014 at 12:08 pm

I have been in the education field for 15 years. Before that, in the public working. I am 57. My husband has been a teacher for 8 years and working in the public before that. We live in Texas. Will we be able to draw both Social Security and our Teacher's Retirement since we will have worked in the public the longest? I would like to retire at 62 and my husband at 66.

Liz Pichler
November 20, 2013 at 3:31 pm

My husband is collecting SS benefits. I am 64 and working full time. I am looking at spousal benefits and not sure of the possible 50% of my husbands benefits. Would he still continue to recieve his full amount? If I apply and recieve does this restrict my working hours? Also, are my benefits affected at 66?

Allyson Howard
October 11, 2013 at 11:37 am

I would like to know if taking retirement at age 62 will reflect my Social Security Disability.
Can you collect both?