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Forbes: Ten Nasty Social Security Gotchas to Avoid

Ten Nasty Social Security Gotchas to Avoid

5. Say you’re 62 and your wife is 66 – at her full retirement age. You’d like her/him to be able to collect “free” spousal benefits for four years and wait until 70 to take the highest retirement benefit possible. So you apply for your retirement benefit. When you hit 66, your wife is 70 and is collecting her retirement benefit. So now you say, “Gee, I can apply to get an excess spousal benefit on my partner’s earnings record and suspend my own retirement benefit and start it up again at 70.” So you apply for your spousal benefit and suspend your retirement benefit.

But you’re in Medicare Part B and you don’t think about paying the Part B premium via a separate check since you’re used to Social Security deducting the premium from your Social Security check. My understanding is that if you don’t pay this check out of your own pocket, your retirement benefit at age 70 will be no larger than when you suspended it. I.e., you would have given up a positive retirement benefit for four years for absolutely nothing.

Pretty good gotcha. But here as in all its provisions, the folks at Social Security can provide reasonable justifications for their rules. But again, the problem is not whether the rules are reasonable. The problem is that no reasonable person can understand the rules and that it’s unreasonable to expect them to.


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7 Tips For A Better Retirement

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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