A little known fact is that the closer you are in age, the better you will probably do when drawing your Social Security benefits collectively. What is meant by collectively? Social Security looks at your benefit individually and quotes your benefit amounts based on you and you alone. If you look at your situation collectively, whether husband and wife, divorced wife/husband and ex-spouse, widowed/widower and deceased spouse your options may be very different.

Flexibility in when you draw is also very key. If your spouse is the higher earner when he/she files could possibly trigger another benefit for the lower income wage earner – just depends on your situation. If there is a large age difference, this could cancel out this option.

There is a little-known fact that you legally attain your age on the day before your birthday. So? This is basically meaningless for most people, but it holds a lot of meaning for Social Security purposes. Let’s use an example for clarity on this issue:

Vicki was born on July 1, 1955. She will reach her Full Retirement Age of 66.2 month on Sept. 1, 2021. If she wants to start drawing her benefits at Full Retirement Age, she would normally indicate September as her starting month. But legally she turns 66.2 months on Aug. 31; so, she would indicate starting her benefit in August; this gives her one extra Social Security check.

This legal twist also helps people born on the second day of the month only if you start your benefits at age 62. There is a law that states you must be 62 for an entire month prior to getting your first Social Security check. Example: Susan was born on Oct. 2. Because she legally turns age 62 on Oct. 1, she is age 62 for the whole month of October so she gets a check for October.

The Full Retirement Age for retirees and the Full Retirement Age for widows is slightly different. So please know that if you are a widow who has also worked you may have one Full Retirement Age for your retirement benefits and another Full Retirement Age for your widows’ benefits. Eligibility for these benefits depends on the age which you become a widow and whether or not you have your own benefits.

Twists and turns at every corner. With more than 2,728 rules and regulations, it is very important to know what category you are in and what options are available for your filing. It depends, it depends and depends….it is your responsibility to know what questions to ask when filing.

DIANE THOMPSON is a National Social Security advisor, and ROY THOMPSON is a former CPA of more than 40 years. You may contact them at dthompson@pillarsllc.com, visit their website at www.pillarsllc.com or call (601) 954-0699.

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