There are many provisions in the Social Security program that can affect not only your retirement, but also the benefits left to your survivors, and you should understand these provisions before you make any decisions about filing. A recent article in U.S. News & World Report, “What Happens to Social Security Benefits When You Die?” discussed some of the issues.
One of the most important things you should know is that if you are married and one spouse dies, there will be only one monthly Social Security check coming in from that point on—the largest of the two. So, it’s important to consider both spouses when planning to optimize your overall benefits throughout the years.
Factors That Affect Social Security Benefits After Death
Claiming benefits before your full retirement age will result in a reduced monthly amount, and that lower figure will be passed on to the survivor at your time of death. However, if you wait, the higher amount will be sent to the survivor, provided they are full retirement age or older. “More times than I can count, I’ve encountered higher earning spouses that wanted to begin drawing Social Security benefits early, primarily due to concerns about not living long enough to warrant delaying benefits for several years,” says Stephen Barns, a financial advisor at Prime Capital Investment Advisors in Little Rock, Arkansas.
“When we have a conversation and gain an understanding that taking a lifetime reduction in benefits also applies to our surviving spouse, that discussion often leads to a decision to postpone benefits, allowing them to grow and be used in the future.”
Optimizing Social Security benefits as part of your comprehensive retirement plan is just one of the reasons you should consider working with a financial advisor like Stephen Barns.
Advisory products and services offered by Investment Adviser Representatives through Prime Capital Investment Advisors, LLC (“PCIA”), a federally registered investment adviser. PCIA: 6201 College Blvd., Suite 150, Overland Park, KS 66211. PCIA doing business as Prime Capital Wealth Management (“PCWM”) and Qualified Plan Advisors (“QPA”). Securities offered by Registered Representatives through Private Client Services, Member FINRA/SIPC. PCIA and Private Client Services are separate entities and are not affiliated.