There is a little known loophole in the social security system for parents that are age 62 or older with children still in high school or younger. Since couples are having children later in life this situation is becoming more common and it could equal big dollars for families that are aware of this social security filing strategy.
Here is how it works. If you are age 62 or older and you have children under that age of 18, they can collect a social security benefit based on your earnings history equal to half of the parents social security benefit at normal retirement age. This amount could equal as much as $16,122 per year for one child for higher income earners. If you have multiple children the total annual amount paid to your family members could equal between 150% to $180% of your normal retirement benefit which could be in excess of $40,000 per year depending on your earnings history.
There are some key considerations. First, your children cannot collect on this “family benefit” until you have begun to collect your social security benefit. You can turn on your social security benefit as early as age 62 but they reduce the monthly amount that you receive if you turn on the benefit prior to your normal retirement age. However, it may make sense to do so depending on the amount of the family benefit paid and the duration of the benefit. If you wait until normal retirement age, you will receive a slightly higher social security benefit for yourself, but all of the social security dollars that could have been paid to your children is lost.
Second, if you are still working and your earned income exceeds certain thresholds this filing strategy may not be advantageous due to the earned income penalty. They reduce your social security benefit by $1 for every $2 earned over a given threshold ($16,920 in 2017). Not only is your social security benefit reduce but also the benefit to your dependents.
Due to these restrictions, this filing strategy yields that greatest benefit to parents that are either fully or partially retired, age 62 or older, with a child or children below the age of 18.
Hi, I’m Michael Ruger. I’m the managing partner of Greenbush Financial Group and the creator of the nationally recognized Money Smart Board blog . I created the blog because there are a lot of events in life that require important financial decisions. The goal is to help our readers avoid big financial missteps, discover financial solutions that they were not aware of, and to optimize their financial future.