• Chris Stein, CFP®

Child-In-Care Spousal Benefits

We had the following question come in about Child-In-Care Spousal benefits and how they are affected by early filing:

I am 66 and just began collecting SS in April $2,272/mo. My spouse, 64, has been collecting $602 since age 62 on her account. We have a disabled 23 year old child in care who is on SSI since 18. My wife was told by SSA worker that her benefit, after increase for spousal benefit, is reduced by the early filing discount.

My questions:

  1. if a “child in care” then age of the spouse is not a factor, so shouldn’t she receive the full 50% of my PIA without reduction for her early filing?

  2. Is (was) she eligible on her own account since age 62 to no reduction for early filing because she had a disabled child in care? And if so, her early filing should certainly not affect her combined own account and spousal benefit?

Bottom Line

For the complete detailed answer, click on, and listen to the audio blog post where I answer these questions in full.  The bottom line answers to this are:

  1. Yes, she is protected from a reduction by having a child-in-care if the only benefit to which she is entitled is a spousal benefit.  In her case she also has her own benefit, so the SSA will pay her own benefit first (the $602), then pay a “spousal offset” to top her up to the full spousal benefit she should receive.  This causes a reduction even with child-in-care since her own benefit is still reduced due to her early filing at 62. The “spousal offset” will not be reduced as it normally would when she files at 64 due to the child-in-care protection

  2. Her own benefit is always subject to an early filing reduction.  It is only the true spousal benefit that receives the child-in-care exclusion from the early filing reduction.

Therefore your wife is partially protected by her child-in-care status, but not fully.  For her it results in about a $200 reduction in total benefits each month instead of a reduction of about $264 if the child-in care protection did not apply.


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