Social Security is, like many government programs, rife with confusion.
For those nearing retirement age, it would be wise to plan now to create the benefits strategy that will maximize their retirement income while allowing them to enjoy life how they wish.
Most experts, such as those at USA Today, recommend using benefit optimization software or an advisor to find the ideal outcome since there are a myriad of situations that affect benefits.
Maximize Benefits by Delaying (70/70)
Mathematically, delaying social security benefits until both partners have reached the age of 70 will normally maximize potential benefits. This is true because according to the Social Security Administration, benefits rise an average of 8 percent per year (for those born after 1943) for each year delayed past full retirement age until the age of 70.
Delaying will ensure the maximum possible income for both partners.
The 66/70 Strategy
This strategy works best if both partners are about the same age and have earned similar incomes throughout their careers. In this scenario, it could be best to use what’s called a restricted application.
Forbes outlines the plan by explaining that one partner will first file for benefits promptly at age 66. Immediately after that, the other partner will file a restricted application for spousal benefits (50 percent of the other partner) and begin collecting those. Meanwhile, the second partner will receive benefit increases over the next four years while they continue to work.
After four years, the second partner files for their own benefits which will end their spousal benefit and put both partners on their own full retirement amounts. If both partners are destined to live a very long life this strategy may not be ideal, but it does offer a good mix of income and life enjoyment!
An Argument for Claiming Early
Most experts agree that claiming social security benefits early is a poor choice, but Fidelity Investments says it can make sense in some cases. If one or both partners are experiencing health issues or expect to have a shorter life expectancy for any reason it might be worthwhile to take benefits as soon as possible to maximize enjoyment during those non-working twilight years!