How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

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One Ping
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How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by One Ping »

Since I'm already receiving my spousal SS benefit, it seems like it should be a simple thing to transition to taking my own retirement benefit. After all hey have already vetted all my info, seems like it should be just a check-box. I've poked around on the SS website to find an application for transitioning from my spousal benefit to my own benefit, to no avail. :confused

The only thing I find are links that take me to what looks like the same application I filled out when I filed for my spousal benefit many years ago.

Do I really have to fill out the whole #### thing again, or am I just not seeing where I go to file for transitioning to my own benefit? :annoyed
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by montanagirl »

I did it all online. I guess I did the whole app but wouldn't have minded. SSA doesn't tailor things much for spousal since so few take it. I clarified exactly what I was doing in the comments field at the end.

And there were no requests for additional info, it just switched over as planned. When I applied for spousal they called me and also my spouse. I may have sent a birth cert also.
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by jeff1949 »

When I did this last year I had to call Social Security and do it over the phone. I could not find a way to do it online. The customer service rep handled it well so I can recommend that route.
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by vtMaps »

If you want to do this because you are turning 70, I don't think you have to do anything... it's automatic when you turn 70.

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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

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montanagirl wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 12:07 pm I did it all online. I guess I did the whole app but wouldn't have minded. SSA doesn't tailor things much for spousal since so few take it. I clarified exactly what I was doing in the comments field at the end.

And there were no requests for additional info, it just switched over as planned. When I applied for spousal they called me and also my spouse. I may have sent a birth cert also.
jeff1949 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 2:01 pm When I did this last year I had to call Social Security and do it over the phone. I could not find a way to do it online. The customer service rep handled it well so I can recommend that route.
So, when I look at these two comments, it seems you can either do it online by 1) re-doing the whole application, with detailed explanation, and resubmitting it, or by 2) calling Social Security.

I'm leaning toward calling, because at the same time we would want to transition my spouse off their own benefit to spousal off my benefit. Would be nice to do both at the same time and not have to worry about something getting cross-wise due to having two separate, but sequence dependent, applications floating around out in the SS "web-o-sphere."
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

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vtMaps wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 2:51 pm If you want to do this because you are turning 70, I don't think you have to do anything... it's automatic when you turn 70.

--vtMaps
Nope, 69. MIke's great tool, OpenSocialSecurity, says no substantive benefit to waiting in our case.
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

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One Ping wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 2:59 pm
vtMaps wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 2:51 pm If you want to do this because you are turning 70, I don't think you have to do anything... it's automatic when you turn 70.

--vtMaps
Nope, 69. MIke's great tool, OpenSocialSecurity, says no substantive benefit to waiting in our case.
Why would you want to start taking your own SS now instead of letting it grow 8% (guaranteed) by waiting another year? I know of no ‘SS tool or calculator’ that takes Roth conversions into effect. (You likely need to save the room in the lower tax brackets for Roth conversions.).

Have you already confirmed that Roth conversions now and next year don’t benefit you very much? Have you estimated your taxes and tax bracket when you and your spouse are both over 72 for an entire year and have taken RMDs for a whole year as well as SS and then compared that to your current taxes and tax bracket?
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by celia »

One Ping wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 2:57 pm I'm leaning toward calling, because at the same time we would want to transition my spouse off their own benefit to spousal off my benefit.
It appears to me that you have more important issues here than how to contact SS. Current rules say a person can only collect their own benefit or their spousal benefit, whichever one is higher. And I don’t understand why your spouse started SS early, but now wants to collect spousal. If their own benefit is less than half of yours, why didn’t you file and suspend at FRA while waiting to collect when you were 70? And your spouse could have collected spousal all this time.

But maybe I’m just confused regarding your plans here as we don’t have any specific numbers to work with.
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by jeff1949 »

I'm pretty sure you can't go from collecting your own SS benefit like your spouse is doing and then go to that spouse collecting a spousal benefit. I'm sure they will set you straight when you phone in.
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by ObliviousInvestor »

celia wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 4:45 pm Current rules say a person can only collect their own benefit or their spousal benefit, whichever one is higher.
This is not true. Spousal benefits are often received in addition to retirement benefits (in which case the spousal benefit is reduced by the greater of the person's own PIA or own monthly retirement benefit).
jeff1949 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 4:57 pm I'm pretty sure you can't go from collecting your own SS benefit like your spouse is doing and then go to that spouse collecting a spousal benefit. I'm sure they will set you straight when you phone in.
A common fact pattern is for lower earner to file for retirement benefits, then (or at the same time) the higher earner (born before 1/2/1954) files a restricted application for spousal-only. Then at a later date (often but not necessarily at age 70) the higher earner files for their own retirement benefit, and the lower earner files for a spousal benefit at that time (their PIA is < 50% of the higher earner's PIA).
Last edited by ObliviousInvestor on Fri Oct 09, 2020 5:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by ObliviousInvestor »

vtMaps wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 2:51 pm If you want to do this because you are turning 70, I don't think you have to do anything... it's automatic when you turn 70.
Filing for retirement benefits is not automatic at age 70. Unsuspension is automatic at age 70, but that would require One Ping to have already filed for retirement benefits and suspended them (which he hasn't, since he filed a restricted application).
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by yosh99 »

My wife and just did this yesterday. She filed for her full benefit at 66 and I was getting a spousal benefit. We wanted to change it to my collecting my full benefit at 70 and her getting the spousal.

I could find no way to do this on the website so I called the SS office (on hold 40 min) to make an appointment for them to call my wife and me to make the change. They called right on time yesterday and we made the change. All the old questions were asked over again.

I must add that everyone we've ever dealt with at the SS Administration has been very professional and helpful. Really outstanding service aside from the long phone hold times.
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by Leif »

ObliviousInvestor wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 5:04 pm
vtMaps wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 2:51 pm If you want to do this because you are turning 70, I don't think you have to do anything... it's automatic when you turn 70.
Filing for retirement benefits is not automatic at age 70. Unsuspension is automatic at age 70, but that would require One Ping to have already filed for retirement benefits and suspended them (which he hasn't, since he filed a restricted application).
Thanks, ObliviousInvestor. I thought that if automatic that is cool, since I'm on spousal and planning to wait until 70 to get the maximum benefit. But, as stated above, at 70 (or perhaps a month or two before), I need to either file again at the website, or give them a call? Call does sound to be easier.

One thing I found unexpected. I read on the SS website that agents will not ask personal info over the phone. Not true! For my spousal they asked a ton of personal questions.
Last edited by Leif on Sat Oct 10, 2020 12:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by Dantes »

I filed on-line earlier this year, a few months before I turned 70. It was the same form as when I filed for spousal benefits. It was trivial to fill out, at least compared to waiting those extra four years.

Based on something I no doubt read here I included in the comments section : "I want my retirement benefits to begin in the month I turn 70.
I do not want any retroactive benefits".

My 70th birthday was July. I filled out the form end of April. I got an email acknowledgement from SS in early May. In early July I got an email that my application had been approved. FIrst full check was in August.
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by dave1054 »

We are in complete opposite position wanting to transition from own SS benefits to spousal. I cannot figure out how to do online. Will do with phone call. Ugh!
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by ObliviousInvestor »

Leif wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 5:19 pm
ObliviousInvestor wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 5:04 pm
vtMaps wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 2:51 pm If you want to do this because you are turning 70, I don't think you have to do anything... it's automatic when you turn 70.
Filing for retirement benefits is not automatic at age 70. Unsuspension is automatic at age 70, but that would require One Ping to have already filed for retirement benefits and suspended them (which he hasn't, since he filed a restricted application).
Thanks, ObliviousInvestor. I thought that if automatic that is cool, since I'm on spousal and planning to wait until 70 to get the maximum benefit. But, as stated above, at 70 (or perhaps a month or two before), I need to either file again at the website, or give them a call?
Yes, that's correct.
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

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ObliviousInvestor wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 5:03 pm
A common fact pattern is for lower earner to file for retirement benefits, then (or at the same time) the higher earner (born before 1/2/1954) files a restricted application for spousal-only. Then at a later date (often but not necessarily at age 70) the higher earner files for their own retirement benefit, and the lower earner files for a spousal benefit at that time (their PIA is < 50% of the higher earner's PIA).
A few years ago, I asked a SS question regarding my parents situation. I was a very new Boglehead at the time. You commented on that thread and gave me this/similar advice. I had no idea who you were at the time.

I just want to say thanks. My parents just implemented this strategy and could not be happier. They had no idea this was even possible. I'm sure you get thanked often for all of your work, but please know that people are very grateful for all of your help. My parents (and myself) cannot thank you enough.
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

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Thank you for your post, spdoublebass.

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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by vtMaps »

ObliviousInvestor wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 5:04 pm
vtMaps wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 2:51 pm If you want to do this because you are turning 70, I don't think you have to do anything... it's automatic when you turn 70.
Filing for retirement benefits is not automatic at age 70. Unsuspension is automatic at age 70, but that would require One Ping to have already filed for retirement benefits and suspended them (which he hasn't, since he filed a restricted application).
Thank you for the important correction. I am collecting SS retirement benefits. My wife is collecting restricted spousal. When she applied in person for restricted spousal, she told them (and they noted) that she would transition to her own benefits at 70. We thought that was that... we didn't realize that she needs to reapply at 70.

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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by Cactuscoug »

We are going through the same thing. After a couple of calls to SS, and spending 40-minutes on hold, we learned to call the "local" SS office. Hold time was about five-minutes. Very helpful.
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

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celia, hope the following helps ... :sharebeer
celia wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 4:24 pm
One Ping wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 2:59 pm
vtMaps wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 2:51 pm If you want to do this because you are turning 70, I don't think you have to do anything... it's automatic when you turn 70.
--vtMaps
Nope, 69. MIke's great tool, OpenSocialSecurity, says no substantive benefit to waiting in our case.
Why would you want to start taking your own SS now instead of letting it grow 8% (guaranteed) by waiting another year?
Like I said, opensocialsecurity showed no benefit to waiting in terms of maximizing NPV. We will have enough cash flow to where I'm not worried about an additional 8% SS when the effect on NPV is ~0. We have an unusual situation in that the lower earner is also more than a few years older than the higher earner. This results in the NPV vs. filing date curve for when to take my own benefit being extremely flat. Any filing date for my retirement benefit between my age 68y 3m and 69y 11m results in an NPV of >99% of the maximum. The only reason I didn't file earlier at 68y 3m is that I needed to wait to start SS until 2021 to mitigate the tax impact of the additional SS income on 2020's income taxes.

I know of no ‘SS tool or calculator’ that takes Roth conversions into effect. (You likely need to save the room in the lower tax brackets for Roth conversions.).
That may be, however, I've been doing Roth conversions for the last 5 years and I've done all the Roth conversions I'm going to do, so ... not a factor.

Have you already confirmed that Roth conversions now and next year don’t benefit you very much? Have you estimated your taxes and tax bracket when you and your spouse are both over 72 for an entire year and have taken RMDs for a whole year as well as SS and then compared that to your current taxes and tax bracket?
Yes and yes. My RMDs will be done using QCDs, so ... no tax impact.
celia wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 4:45 pm
One Ping wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 2:57 pm I'm leaning toward calling, because at the same time we would want to transition my spouse off their own benefit to spousal off my benefit.
It appears to me that you have more important issues here than how to contact SS.
Nope. That is the last issue I have (had :happy ) regarding my SS filing scenario.

Current rules say a person can only collect their own benefit or their spousal benefit, whichever one is higher.
That may be what the current law says, but when I filed I was eligible to file a 'restricted' application for just my spousal benefit.

And I don’t understand why your spouse started SS early, but now wants to collect spousal.
My spouse didn't file early, they filed for their own benefit at their FRA. There was no benefit to them in waiting longer since it would not increase their spousal benefit (note: filing before FRA would have ultimately reduced their spousal benefit). My spouse's spousal benefit is substantially greater than their current retirement benefit(~3x), so ... why wouldn't they want the larger benefit?

If their own benefit is less than half of yours, why didn’t you file and suspend at FRA while waiting to collect when you were 70? And your spouse could have collected spousal all this time.
I was not eligible to file and suspend (born too late.)

But maybe I’m just confused regarding your plans here as we don’t have any specific numbers to work with.
You do sound confused, or at least you hold several unfounded preconceived notions about our situation. You don't really need numbers, as they aren't relevant my question in the OP.
Like I said, while not unique, our situation is unusual. :beer
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

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yosh99 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 5:10 pm My wife and just did this yesterday. She filed for her full benefit at 66 and I was getting a spousal benefit. We wanted to change it to my collecting my full benefit at 70 and her getting the spousal.

I could find no way to do this on the website so I called the SS office (on hold 40 min) to make an appointment for them to call my wife and me to make the change. They called right on time yesterday and we made the change. All the old questions were asked over again.

I must add that everyone we've ever dealt with at the SS Administration has been very professional and helpful. Really outstanding service aside from the long phone hold times.
Thanks, yosh99!! :beer This is exactly what we need to do, it sounds like.

We've had the same good experience with SS you refer to.
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

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Cactuscoug wrote: Sat Oct 10, 2020 8:19 am We are going through the same thing. After a couple of calls to SS, and spending 40-minutes on hold, we learned to call the "local" SS office. Hold time was about five-minutes. Very helpful.
Thanks, Cactuscoug. :beer
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by Herekittykitty »

I started taking widow's benefits at my FRA age of 66 with the plan to change over to my own benefits at my age 70 as they would be higher than my widow's benefits. My plan was to get an appointment and go in to the Social Security office and sit down with a real person to do this.

Now I am a few months past age 70 and continue on the widow's benefits even though they are lower than benefits on my own record would be, because I am concerned that if I try to make the change over the phone that the widow's benefits could be stopped but my own benefits not started or at least not started until I missed a few months payments. I do not know if my concerns are justified.
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by ObliviousInvestor »

celia wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 4:45 pm Current rules say a person can only collect their own benefit or their spousal benefit, whichever one is higher.
One Ping wrote: Sat Oct 10, 2020 11:23 am That may be what the current law says, but when I filed I was eligible to file a 'restricted' application for just my spousal benefit.
Sincere apologies if I'm beating a dead horse here, but it's not what current law says either. People get spousal benefits with retirement benefits all the time. (And that's just as true for people born after 1/1/1954 as for people born on/before that date.) The common misconception that it's one or the other can lead to an assortment of misunderstandings/calculation errors.

Similarly, it's possible to get disability benefits and spousal benefits at the same time. And it's possible to get retirement and widow(er) benefits at the same time.

In every case, the spousal (or widow/widower) benefit will be reduced due to being entitled to retirement (or disability) benefits. But the distinction leads to a different mathematical result (i.e., different total monthly benefit) in an assortment of situations.
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by ObliviousInvestor »

Herekittykitty wrote: Sat Oct 10, 2020 11:37 am I started taking widow's benefits at my FRA age of 66 with the plan to change over to my own benefits at my age 70 as they would be higher than my widow's benefits. My plan was to get an appointment and go in to the Social Security office and sit down with a real person to do this.

Now I am a few months past age 70 and continue on the widow's benefits even though they are lower than benefits on my own record would be, because I am concerned that if I try to make the change over the phone that the widow's benefits could be stopped but my own benefits not started or at least not started until I missed a few months payments. I do not know if my concerns are justified.
Your entitlement to widow's benefits would not end until your entitlement to retirement benefits begins. There should not be a gap at all.

I can't say it's never happened (e.g., due to some processing issue), but there would not normally be a gap.

(Also, be sure to ask for retroactive retirement benefits back to age 70. You can get up to 6 months retroactive, so don't wait beyond 70 + 6 months!)
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

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ObliviousInvestor wrote: Sat Oct 10, 2020 12:52 pm
celia wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 4:45 pm Current rules say a person can only collect their own benefit or their spousal benefit, whichever one is higher.
One Ping wrote: Sat Oct 10, 2020 11:23 am That may be what the current law says, but when I filed I was eligible to file a 'restricted' application for just my spousal benefit.
Sincere apologies if I'm beating a dead horse here, but it's not what current law says either. People get spousal benefits with retirement benefits all the time. (And that's just as true for people born after 1/1/1954 as for people born on/before that date.) The common misconception that it's one or the other can lead to an assortment of misunderstandings/calculation errors.

Similarly, it's possible to get disability benefits and spousal benefits at the same time. And it's possible to get retirement and widow(er) benefits at the same time.

In every case, the spousal (or widow/widower) benefit will be reduced due to being entitled to retirement (or disability) benefits. But the distinction leads to a different mathematical result (i.e., different total monthly benefit) in an assortment of situations.
Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa. You are, of course, correct, Mike.
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by Herekittykitty »

ObliviousInvestor wrote: Sat Oct 10, 2020 12:54 pm
Herekittykitty wrote: Sat Oct 10, 2020 11:37 am I started taking widow's benefits at my FRA age of 66 with the plan to change over to my own benefits at my age 70 as they would be higher than my widow's benefits. My plan was to get an appointment and go in to the Social Security office and sit down with a real person to do this.

Now I am a few months past age 70 and continue on the widow's benefits even though they are lower than benefits on my own record would be, because I am concerned that if I try to make the change over the phone that the widow's benefits could be stopped but my own benefits not started or at least not started until I missed a few months payments. I do not know if my concerns are justified.
Your entitlement to widow's benefits would not end until your entitlement to retirement benefits begins. There should not be a gap at all.

I can't say it's never happened (e.g., due to some processing issue), but there would not normally be a gap.

(Also, be sure to ask for retroactive retirement benefits back to age 70. You can get up to 6 months retroactive, so don't wait beyond 70 + 6 months!)
Thanks much! I'm a reader of your books - I have them all and periodically buy another of various of them to give away. What an honor to have you respond to my concern!

I would not have thought of asking for retirement benefits back to age 70. If I can get myself to call Social Security and ask for them to change me to retirement benefits from widow's benefits, next month it will have been 6 months since I turned 70 so this timing is great! I assume they would take my retirement benefits and subtract the widow's benefits I have gotten over that 6 month period and that would be the retroactive amount I would get.

OTOH doesn't it take two actions on the part of the person who answers the phone at Social Security to switch me from widow's to retirement benefits - stopping the widow's benefits and starting retirement benefits? Or is it just one action they do that accomplish both? (I had a great experience at the Social Security office with an appointment signing up for widow's benefits. The person who did it for me knew exactly what she was doing. OTOH I just walked in once and got a miscellaneous person at the window who gave me clearly inaccurate information about how many years credible employment I had and she said she didn't know how to figure it out - but regardless of not knowing how to figure it out, she gave me an answer - that turned out to be wrong when I later figured it out myself. So I'm antsy about doing this over the phone - where it is harder to know if you are getting someone good or someone clueless.)
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by ObliviousInvestor »

Herekittykitty wrote: Sat Oct 10, 2020 3:10 pm I'm a reader of your books - I have them all and periodically buy another of various of them to give away.
Thank you!
Herekittykitty wrote: Sat Oct 10, 2020 3:10 pm OTOH doesn't it take two actions on the part of the person who answers the phone at Social Security to switch me from widow's to retirement benefits - stopping the widow's benefits and starting retirement benefits? Or is it just one action they do that accomplish both?
As far as the law is concerned, your entitlement to retirement benefits will automatically end your entitlement to widow's benefits (if your retirement benefit is greater than your deceased spouse's primary insurance amount).

As far as what the SSA employee actually has to do in their computer system, I do not frankly know. (Is it one form that they fill out that has both effects? Two separate forms? I don't know.)

FWIW, what you would be asking to do is a very common thing. Unless you end up with a very new SSA employee, they will almost certainly have handled similar situations before.

If you're concerned about getting any grief regarding the request for retroactivity, you could have the following reference ready to provide to them, particularly paragraph B2.
https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200204030
SSA.gov (POMS GN 00204.030 "Retroactivity for Title II Benefits") wrote:
B. Retroactivity for retirement insurance benefits (RIB)

[...]
2. Applications filed after FRA

For RIB applications filed after FRA, we allow up to 6 months retroactivity. However, for those who file less than 6 months after FRA, we only pay retroactive benefits back to the month of FRA attainment. If a claimant is eligible and elects retroactivity, explain the effect the retroactive payment will have on the ongoing monthly benefit amount when electing to start benefits in a retroactive month at any time before age 70 (i.e., taking the lump sum payment will permanently reduce the ongoing monthly benefit amount).
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by Big Dog »

yosh99 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 5:10 pm I must add that everyone we've ever dealt with at the SS Administration has been very professional and helpful. Really outstanding service aside from the long phone hold times.
Agree that everyone who answers the phone is very professional [and tries] to be helpful. But there are certain things that they have trouble handling on the phone since their Customer Service plan is all about having folks come into the office. And with offices closed for COVID, they can struggle to address what appears to be simple requests.

Recently I appealed IRMAA. Request denied. I called to inquire why and the Rep who answered the phone had no idea. She was extremely nice and cheerful, but when I asked why the reviewer rejected my IRMAA claim, she said that she had no way to look it up in the system and view the decision notes. She said my only option was to make a formal appeal. Ok, I'll bite, what am I appealing? What new info can I submit? She "speculated" that perhaps the reviewer rejected my claim due to the income disparity year over year. Huh? Isn't that what SSA-44 is supposed to be for? She said, sure, but sometimes its easier to deny a claim up front if there is any question, as retrieving any over-payment after the fact is difficult. Me: 'so, the reviewer assumed that I lied on the SSA-44?'....

Finally wrote my Congressperson who raised my claim to someone high enuf, and it my IRMAA request was handled (approved) within 2 weeks.
Workinghard
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by Workinghard »

ObliviousInvestor wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 5:03 pm
celia wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 4:45 pm Current rules say a person can only collect their own benefit or their spousal benefit, whichever one is higher.
This is not true. Spousal benefits are often received in addition to retirement benefits (in which case the spousal benefit is reduced by the greater of the person's own PIA or own monthly retirement benefit).
jeff1949 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 4:57 pm I'm pretty sure you can't go from collecting your own SS benefit like your spouse is doing and then go to that spouse collecting a spousal benefit. I'm sure they will set you straight when you phone in.
A common fact pattern is for lower earner to file for retirement benefits, then (or at the same time) the higher earner (born before 1/2/1954) files a restricted application for spousal-only. Then at a later date (often but not necessarily at age 70) the higher earner files for their own retirement benefit, and the lower earner files for a spousal benefit at that time (their PIA is < 50% of the higher earner's PIA).
I’m another person that wants to thank you for your advice. Because I was the younger, lower wage earner, I applied for my SS at age 62. Following your advice, my husband did a restricted application for spousal benefits. He’ll be turning 70 next year and filing for his own SS which is estimated to be around $2999. I’m only getting around $1200. I had no idea I could also file for spousal benefits. Again, thanks for all your help.
Carl53
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by Carl53 »

Workinghard wrote: Sat Oct 10, 2020 5:50 pm
ObliviousInvestor wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 5:03 pm
celia wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 4:45 pm Current rules say a person can only collect their own benefit or their spousal benefit, whichever one is higher.
This is not true. Spousal benefits are often received in addition to retirement benefits (in which case the spousal benefit is reduced by the greater of the person's own PIA or own monthly retirement benefit).
jeff1949 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 4:57 pm I'm pretty sure you can't go from collecting your own SS benefit like your spouse is doing and then go to that spouse collecting a spousal benefit. I'm sure they will set you straight when you phone in.
A common fact pattern is for lower earner to file for retirement benefits, then (or at the same time) the higher earner (born before 1/2/1954) files a restricted application for spousal-only. Then at a later date (often but not necessarily at age 70) the higher earner files for their own retirement benefit, and the lower earner files for a spousal benefit at that time (their PIA is < 50% of the higher earner's PIA).
I’m another person that wants to thank you for your advice. Because I was the younger, lower wage earner, I applied for my SS at age 62. Following your advice, my husband did a restricted application for spousal benefits. He’ll be turning 70 next year and filing for his own SS which is estimated to be around $2999. I’m only getting around $1200. I had no idea I could also file for spousal benefits. Again, thanks for all your help.
I highlighted the last portion of the sentence that is going to be a problem for you getting any higher benefits. Your $1200 benefit would suggest a PIA of about $1600 while your spouse's age 70 benefit suggest a PIA of about $2272. Yours is greater than 50% of his, not less, so you won't be able to get a bump up after he files. I think Mike's (Obliviousinvestor) https://opensocialsecurity.com/ will confirm that for you if you put in your information into it.
Workinghard
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by Workinghard »

Carl53 wrote: Sun Oct 11, 2020 4:59 am
Workinghard wrote: Sat Oct 10, 2020 5:50 pm
ObliviousInvestor wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 5:03 pm
celia wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 4:45 pm Current rules say a person can only collect their own benefit or their spousal benefit, whichever one is higher.
This is not true. Spousal benefits are often received in addition to retirement benefits (in which case the spousal benefit is reduced by the greater of the person's own PIA or own monthly retirement benefit).
jeff1949 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 4:57 pm I'm pretty sure you can't go from collecting your own SS benefit like your spouse is doing and then go to that spouse collecting a spousal benefit. I'm sure they will set you straight when you phone in.
A common fact pattern is for lower earner to file for retirement benefits, then (or at the same time) the higher earner (born before 1/2/1954) files a restricted application for spousal-only. Then at a later date (often but not necessarily at age 70) the higher earner files for their own retirement benefit, and the lower earner files for a spousal benefit at that time (their PIA is < 50% of the higher earner's PIA).
I’m another person that wants to thank you for your advice. Because I was the younger, lower wage earner, I applied for my SS at age 62. Following your advice, my husband did a restricted application for spousal benefits. He’ll be turning 70 next year and filing for his own SS which is estimated to be around $2999. I’m only getting around $1200. I had no idea I could also file for spousal benefits. Again, thanks for all your help.
I highlighted the last portion of the sentence that is going to be a problem for you getting any higher benefits. Your $1200 benefit would suggest a PIA of about $1600 while your spouse's age 70 benefit suggest a PIA of about $2272. Yours is greater than 50% of his, not less, so you won't be able to get a bump up after he files. I think Mike's (Obliviousinvestor) https://opensocialsecurity.com/ will confirm that for you if you put in your information into it.
Thanks for pointing that out, Carl. I’ll check the calculator, but methinks you’re right. I haven’t been keeping up on things here (like I should have been) over the past few years. Got busy with other things. I’m pretty rusty.
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bertilak
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by bertilak »

jeff1949 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 2:01 pm When I did this last year I had to call Social Security and do it over the phone. I could not find a way to do it online. The customer service rep handled it well so I can recommend that route.
I have dealt with the SS people on and off for about a decade and always found them to be VERY helpful. You just need to put up with the time it takes to get their attention. The best thing might be a visit to your local SS office. Sit down and wait for your number to be called. Before the visit, a phone call to be sure you have all the right info is prudent to avoid a second in-person visit (with its wait).
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hvaclorax
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by hvaclorax »

Along these same lines, is there any benefit to taking full SS at 70 years plus 6 months? Delay taxes due for 2 more quarters? Or is this just splitting hairs? Thanks
JimM
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JoeRetire
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by JoeRetire »

hvaclorax wrote: Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:04 pm Along these same lines, is there any benefit to taking full SS at 70 years plus 6 months? Delay taxes due for 2 more quarters? Or is this just splitting hairs? Thanks
JimM
At best, just splitting hairs.

I suppose there is a unique circumstance where that 6 month delay might be beneficial. But I can't think of one.
It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | And I feel fine.
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Eagle33
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by Eagle33 »

hvaclorax wrote: Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:04 pm Along these same lines, is there any benefit to taking full SS at 70 years plus 6 months? Delay taxes due for 2 more quarters? Or is this just splitting hairs? Thanks
JimM
Maybe if your birthday + 6 months allows you receive your 1st payment and your 6-month retroactive payment in the following year so you can do one last Roth conversion before receiving SS payments.
Rocket science is not “rocket science” to a rocket scientist, just as personal finance is not “rocket science” to a Boglehead.
hvaclorax
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by hvaclorax »

Yeah, that’s not me. DOB is January. Thanks for the help.
bluegill
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by bluegill »

This thread is hard to read because posters don't use proper terms.
SS benefit types are 1) Retirement, 2 ) Disability, 3) Dependent, and 4) Spousal and Survivor
Usually when the poster says "her benefit" they mean Retirement benefit. Usually when the poster says "own benefit" they mean Retirement benefit.
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Re: How to transition from Spousal to Own SS benefit?

Post by Herekittykitty »

ObliviousInvestor wrote: Sat Oct 10, 2020 4:08 pm .......As far as the law is concerned, your entitlement to retirement benefits will automatically end your entitlement to widow's benefits (if your retirement benefit is greater than your deceased spouse's primary insurance amount)......
Thank you so much for the above and the rest of your very helpful explanation.
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