Last week’s blog discussed the need to include Social Security Retirement benefit planning when engaging in estate planning or long term care planning with an elder law attorney since income is an important consideration in determining how much money you will have to pay your bills or even pay for your long term care. 

In general, it is better to delay taking Social Security benefits until full retirement age so that you can receive more money each month.  Sometimes, though, a person has to take benefits early – when one only has limited funds and would be unable to earn much or when one is seriously ill and has a shortened life expectancy. 

There is another time to consider filing early for Social Security Retirement benefits – when there can be coordination of benefits with a spouse. Married couples should consider their Social Security benefits jointly as part of a plan rather than making decisions on when to file for benefits independently. If both spouses are eligible for retirement benefits, it might make sense for one spouse to file early while the other spouse waits until his or her full retirement age or even later to file for benefits. Then, when one spouse dies, the surviving spouse will usually continue to receive the larger of the two amounts.  It is best for couples to try to maximum Social Security Retirement benefits if possible. 

When engaging in estate planning or long term care planning, an elder law attorney can help to determine whether filing early for Social Security Retirement benefits makes sense.