Social security planning for mom

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Post Reply
Topic Author
Wannaretireearly
Posts: 811
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:39 pm

Social security planning for mom

Post by Wannaretireearly » Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:04 am

I've posted before on this topic, and will summarize here including new questions/concerns.

Background:
Mum is 65 and will turn 66 in April.
She has an apmt in Feb at the local SS office. I plan to go with her.
Our plan is for her to start taking my dad's ss benefit starting when she is 66 (her FRA). I think the rules say she won't be tax penalized once she is 66 (?). Mom still works and will continue for the next year or two. Dad passed away over 10 years ago.

Dads benefit is smaller than moms. Plan is to take dads this year and than switch to mums (higher) benefit at age 70.

Questions:
1. Mom called to make the apmt and described this plan. She was told ss laws have changed recently where this plan to take dads benefit first and hers later is no longer allowed. Is this true?

2. Assuming the plan is still ok, what rule book can I reference at the apmt? I'm worried we'll get the runaround at our apmt in Feb. I'd like to point to solid info in case the folks at the ss office are not aware of the rules.

3. How can we be best prepared for the apmt? What should we bring? Forms to fill out ahead of time?

4. Advice on how to handle challenges while were there. E.g. Asking for someone more senior/manager if we dont get what we need to sign up for benefits the correct way?

Thank you all very much.
Buy Low, Sell High

nonurseorpurse
Posts: 29
Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2012 8:55 am

Re: Social security planning for mom

Post by nonurseorpurse » Mon Jan 13, 2020 4:17 am

The best source of information is the social security website, www.ssa.gov
Search for survivor's benefits. It will also explain how the benefit is calculated and the best claiming strategy. "Form SSA-10 | Information You Need to Apply for Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Divorced Spouse's Benefits"

"Many of you will be eligible to collect a survivor benefit and then when you reach age 70 you can switch to your retirement benefit if your own would be larger at that point.

 The Social Security office may not suggest this to you - but you can do it."


Here's a list of documents. Also see form SSA-10. Please note that original documents are needed.

When you apply for Social Security survivor benefits you will need to take the following documents with you:

Proof of death—either from a funeral home or death certificate;
Your Social Security number, as well as the deceased workers;
Your birth certificate;
Your marriage certificate, if you are a widow or widower;
Dependent children’s Social Security numbers, if available, and birth certificates;
Deceased worker’s W-2 forms or federal self-employment tax return for the most recent year; and
The name of your bank and your account number so your benefits can be deposited directly into your account.

Don't hesitate to ask for a supervisor if you are challenged on your strategy. Be very clear on the date your mom would begin benefits. For example, if she turns 66 in the month of July, the first check would be deposited in August. There is a provision that she can qualify for up to 6 months of back benefits but that would reduce her monthly benefit because she had not yet attained age 66.

Be patient, most appointments go fine.

vested1
Posts: 1879
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:20 pm

Re: Social security planning for mom

Post by vested1 » Mon Jan 13, 2020 5:48 am

I believe the person your mom talked to at SS was confused, and assumed that she was asking about a restricted application, which isn't available to her because she missed the cutoff date.

She should be eligible for survivor benefits of his full PIA amount including COLA since his death however, assuming he hadn't filed for his own benefit before his FRA at the time of his death. If he died without filing and was older than his FRA she would get that amount plus COLA. Having her wait until her own FRA to file for survivor benefits ensures that they will not be reduced, or subject to reduction due to her earned income.

She can then delay her own filing until her age 70. Someone will correct me if this is incorrect.

Topic Author
Wannaretireearly
Posts: 811
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:39 pm

Re: Social security planning for mom

Post by Wannaretireearly » Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:45 pm

Thank you both for your input!
Buy Low, Sell High

mac2019
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2017 10:26 am

Re: Social security planning for mom

Post by mac2019 » Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:54 pm

The previous posters are correct. The SS representative did not understand that your Dad was deceased. Your Mom can choose to take her survivor benefit now and wait until 70 to take her own benefit, or she can take her benefit now and wait until 70 to take your Dad's. It sounds like you ran the numbers and know which benefit will be higher at 70. I found a book titled "Get What's Yours, The Revised Secrets to Maxing out Your Social Security," by Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Philip Moeller and Paul Solman, that was very helpful. However, there are other books out there on SS that also get good reviews on Amazon. I would suggest reviewing one of those books. SS can get complicated and SS representatives don't always know their own regulations.

Topic Author
Wannaretireearly
Posts: 811
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:39 pm

Re: Social security planning for mom

Post by Wannaretireearly » Mon Jan 13, 2020 3:33 pm

mac2019 wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:54 pm
The previous posters are correct. The SS representative did not understand that your Dad was deceased. Your Mom can choose to take her survivor benefit now and wait until 70 to take her own benefit, or she can take her benefit now and wait until 70 to take your Dad's. It sounds like you ran the numbers and know which benefit will be higher at 70. I found a book titled "Get What's Yours, The Revised Secrets to Maxing out Your Social Security," by Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Philip Moeller and Paul Solman, that was very helpful. However, there are other books out there on SS that also get good reviews on Amazon. I would suggest reviewing one of those books. SS can get complicated and SS representatives don't always know their own regulations.
Thanks! Agree on it getting complicated. we did get one of the books recommended here (author: piper i think)
Buy Low, Sell High

User avatar
ObliviousInvestor
Posts: 3602
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2009 9:32 am
Contact:

Re: Social security planning for mom

Post by ObliviousInvestor » Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:22 pm

What she wants to do is known as filing a restricted application for widow's benefits.

If you want something to print out and bring to the SSA office, I'd bring this:
https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200204035

And I'd highlight this part:
Deemed filing does not apply to survivor benefits. For example, when a claimant becomes entitled to widow(er)’s benefits (WIB), he or she is not deemed to file for RIB. The claimant may restrict the WIB application and delay filing for RIB. For instructions on handling a surviving divorced spouse claim based on the disabled widow(er)’s benefits (DWB) provisions in Section 5103 of Public Law (P.L.) 101-508, see DI 11015.001.
Mike Piper, author/blogger

Topic Author
Wannaretireearly
Posts: 811
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:39 pm

Re: Social security planning for mom

Post by Wannaretireearly » Mon Jan 13, 2020 11:03 pm

ObliviousInvestor wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:22 pm
What she wants to do is known as filing a restricted application for widow's benefits.

If you want something to print out and bring to the SSA office, I'd bring this:
https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200204035

And I'd highlight this part:
Deemed filing does not apply to survivor benefits. For example, when a claimant becomes entitled to widow(er)’s benefits (WIB), he or she is not deemed to file for RIB. The claimant may restrict the WIB application and delay filing for RIB. For instructions on handling a surviving divorced spouse claim based on the disabled widow(er)’s benefits (DWB) provisions in Section 5103 of Public Law (P.L.) 101-508, see DI 11015.001.
Thanks, but I'm confused.
I'm concerned about the impact of the Jan 2nd 1954 date at that link. My mom was born in May 1954.
What is the impact?
Buy Low, Sell High

User avatar
BL
Posts: 9237
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 2:28 pm

Re: Social security planning for mom

Post by BL » Tue Jan 14, 2020 1:16 am

I believe that new law affected spousal benefits, not survivor's benefits. TFB (Mike Piper) has, I believe, written a very readable book about SS (If you plan to read it, be sure it has the updated date since the law change.) The book I am thinking of is short but thorough. That book can be reached by using the Amazon.com link on this website.

He has also contributed to various threads on the subject here, which can be obtained by searching.

Sorry, I mixed up the two Bogleheads. I meant Mike Piper, ObliviousInvestor, who just gave you some good information.
Last edited by BL on Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
ObliviousInvestor
Posts: 3602
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2009 9:32 am
Contact:

Re: Social security planning for mom

Post by ObliviousInvestor » Tue Jan 14, 2020 7:08 am

Wannaretireearly wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 11:03 pm
ObliviousInvestor wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:22 pm
What she wants to do is known as filing a restricted application for widow's benefits.

If you want something to print out and bring to the SSA office, I'd bring this:
https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200204035

And I'd highlight this part:
Deemed filing does not apply to survivor benefits. For example, when a claimant becomes entitled to widow(er)’s benefits (WIB), he or she is not deemed to file for RIB. The claimant may restrict the WIB application and delay filing for RIB. For instructions on handling a surviving divorced spouse claim based on the disabled widow(er)’s benefits (DWB) provisions in Section 5103 of Public Law (P.L.) 101-508, see DI 11015.001.
Thanks, but I'm confused.
I'm concerned about the impact of the Jan 2nd 1954 date at that link. My mom was born in May 1954.
What is the impact?
No impact at all. Deemed filing does not apply to survivor benefits. That was true prior to the rules changing, and it's still true.

The 1/2/1954 cutoff determines whether the old or new rules apply to the person in question. But in this particular set of circumstances, we don't really care, because the old rules and new rules are the same with regard to survivor benefits.
Mike Piper, author/blogger

Topic Author
Wannaretireearly
Posts: 811
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:39 pm

Re: Social security planning for mom

Post by Wannaretireearly » Tue Jan 14, 2020 9:45 am

ObliviousInvestor wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 7:08 am
Wannaretireearly wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 11:03 pm
ObliviousInvestor wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:22 pm
What she wants to do is known as filing a restricted application for widow's benefits.

If you want something to print out and bring to the SSA office, I'd bring this:
https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200204035

And I'd highlight this part:
Deemed filing does not apply to survivor benefits. For example, when a claimant becomes entitled to widow(er)’s benefits (WIB), he or she is not deemed to file for RIB. The claimant may restrict the WIB application and delay filing for RIB. For instructions on handling a surviving divorced spouse claim based on the disabled widow(er)’s benefits (DWB) provisions in Section 5103 of Public Law (P.L.) 101-508, see DI 11015.001.
Thanks, but I'm confused.
I'm concerned about the impact of the Jan 2nd 1954 date at that link. My mom was born in May 1954.
What is the impact?
No impact at all. Deemed filing does not apply to survivor benefits. That was true prior to the rules changing, and it's still true.

The 1/2/1954 cutoff determines whether the old or new rules apply to the person in question. But in this particular set of circumstances, we don't really care, because the old rules and new rules are the same with regard to survivor benefits.
Appreciate the help.Thanks!
Buy Low, Sell High

Post Reply