Brenda Lyle – Florida Today
Q: What is the Social Security “Deemed Filing” Rule?
A: The question about when to take Social Security always sparks a lively discussion, with no “right” answer. The timing truly depends on factors that are unique to each individual situation– especially with married couples.
Social Security calculates your monthly payment on the 35 years you earned the most money. Your “full retirement” age is based on the year of your birth. While you can start receiving Social Security as early as age 62, your benefit grows the longer you work. Waiting until age 70 earns you the largest benefit possible. Taking your payment at age 62 will permanently lower your monthly benefit and will significantly lower your spousal benefit. Your best first step is to go online to SSA.gov and create your account. There, you can see your lifetime earnings record as well as payment estimators to help you understand your benefit.
Spousal Benefits – Prior to law changes in 2015, one spouse could receive “spousal benefits,” while the other spouse could delay filing for their own (worker) benefits –allowing their earnings to grow. “Deemed filing” went into effect for people turning 62 on or after January 2, 2016. Deemed filing means that when you file for retirement benefits, you are deemed to file for both spousal and worker benefits at the same time. The purpose of the rule is to prevent someone from taking unfair advantage of the system. Therefore, you cannot claim benefits on a spouse’s record while waiting for your own benefits to increase. In a nutshell, when applying for a spouse’s benefit, you are deemed to have applied for your own retirement benefits too, preventing you from earning delayed retirement credits. The deemed filing rules do not apply to Survivor or Disability benefits. The important takeaway here? Taking YOUR retirement early will also reduce the spousal benefit. You can confirm this effect by checking the spousal benefit calculator on the Social Security website.
Who can I talk to?
For the internet savvy, start with SSA.gov, which is the official website of the Social Security Administration. Create a personal account, get an estimate of your benefits and use their life expectancy calculator. Questions? The site provides a Frequently Asked Questions section with more than 200 answers. The Association for Mature Americans (AMAC) also has a social security advisory service. Call 1-888-750-2622. Your financial planner should also be well versed in the various options. One Senior Place has financial planners and professional advisors to walk you through the different scenarios. Just call 321-751-6771 in Viera or visit OneSeniorPlace.com.
One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to AskOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.
Brenda Lyle is a Certified Care Manager and Certified Dementia Practitioner with One Senior Place, Greater Orlando.