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  • Writer's pictureChris Stein, CFP®

Leaving Your Social Security Benefit to Someone Else?

You’ve saved well, invested responsibly and accumulated more assets that you’ll need in your retirement.  When you pass away, there will be something left over for you to leave to your beneficiaries.  Leaving your Social Security benefit to someone else really isn’t an option though, so if leaving assets to others is something you’d like to do, optimizing your Social Security benefit may not be your best course of action.

Delaying your Social Security Benefit

In this blog we often praise the merits of delaying your Social Security claim in order to optimize your lifetime benefits.  One pitfall of this strategy is that you must often wait several years before collecting your Social Security benefits. This may require you to supplement your monthly income from other retirement assets, thereby depleting these assets; assets where you can choose the beneficiary.

If you choose to deplete other assets in favor of optimizing your Social Security benefit, remember that you can’t leave your SS benefit to someone else.  Some of your survivors may be elligible for Survivor Benefits, but you do not get to choose who these survivors are.  The individuals who are entitled to survivor benefits are predetermined by law.

Who can receive survivor benefits?

  1. Your widow or widower-

  2. Can receive full benefits at their full retirement age or reduced benefits as early as age 60.

  3. Can receive benefits as early as age 50 if they are disabled.

  4. Can receive benefits at any age if he or she is taking care of your child who under the age of 16 or disabled, and receiving Social Security benefits.

  5. Your children who are unmarried –

  6. Can receive a reduced benefit if they are younger than age 18 (or 19 if they are still in High School)

  7. Can receive a reduced benefit at any age if they were disabled before age 22 and continue to be disabled.

  8. Your parents who were dependent on you –

  9. Can receive benefits if they are at least age 62 and you provided at least half of their support.

  10. Your divorced spouse –

  11. Can receive benefits if you were married to them for at least 10 years, they are at least age 60.

  12. Can receive benefits at any age regardless of marriage length if they are caring for your child who entitled to your benefits and is younger than age 16 or disabled.

So, if you want to leave your assets to someone other than whom the Social Security Administration has predetermined, like a neice, a friend or a charity, optimizing your Social Security benefit by delaying your payments may not be the best thing.

For more information on this topic, please use the play  button below to hear the audio post.

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