Make the Right Decision on Social Security

Physician's Money Digest, March 2006, Volume 13, Issue 3

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Timing the acceptance of your SocialSecurity benefits is critical in order to livecomfortably in your retirement years. Butfor married couples, the choice of whichspouse should take the benefits and whencan be complicated. This is especially truefor physicians, who may have earned significantlymore than their spouse duringtheir working years. According to , the spousal benefit is affected bythe ages of both spouses when they decideto retire. For example, if a wife has earnedless and she retires at age 62, before thefull retirement age (set by Social Securityrules) of 66, then the spousal benefit of herhusband's retirement benefit will be 35%.But if she doesn't retire until age 66, thenshe will be able to collect 50% of her husband'sbenefit. While this may seem like anobvious choice and could mean the differenceof hundreds of dollars a month, notevery retiree takes advantage becausethey can't hold off on claiming their benefits.If a retiree can afford to wait, theyshould have the lower earner take theirbenefits early and have the higher earnerwait until full retirement age, so they canget the highest monthly benefit possible.Then, when either spouse passes away, thesurviving spouse can choose the highestmonthly amount.