In our monthly planning faux pas, we’ll highlight potentially devastating mistakes or misconceptions that retirees will want to be aware of in regards to social security and other aspects of financial planning. Here’s one: Social Security won’t pay you two benefits at the same time. If you are entitled to more than one benefit, you’ll receive the larger of the two (or something close to it). For example, married couples are entitled to collect on their spouse’s earnings record—a spousal benefit. However, you don’t get to take both. You can only take the higher of the two. And the moment you go to file for one of them, you’ll be “deemed” to be filing for the other one two.

However, spouses and qualified divorced spouses who were 62 prior to January 2, 2016 are allowed to take just their spousal/divorced spousal benefits starting at full retirement age and then switch to their personal retirement benefit at age 70. And for widows the rules are a little different. If you were widowed before taking your retirement benefit, you can take your widow(er) benefit before or after your own personal retirement benefit. This is also true for qualified divorced widow(er)s.

The rules of social security seem easy at first glance, but they can be very complicated. If you want a second pair of eyes to look over your social security strategy and overall retirement plan, give us a call.

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