It doesn’t matter which spouse dies, for the purposes of benefits, because at the first death, the survivor benefit becomes the higher retirement benefit of the two spouses, he explained. Ultimately, the biggest challenge to assessing life expectancy, Moisand said, is the obvious unknown factor, and it can only be estimated based on tables and other factors.
There are also twists and turns regarding survivor benefits that advisors should know, Moisand said, explaining that clients don’t have to be currently married to someone in order to gain Social Security dollars.
If a client gets married after age 60 they can still receive survivor benefits on an ex-spouse who they were married to for over ten years. “You’re not stuck with the new guy,” he quipped.
FILE & SUSPEND
Another popular tactic, the file-and-suspend strategy, allows for the client to file for benefits but suspend them, which results in delayed retirement credits while still allowing their spouse to begin claiming spousal benefits.
"If you file and suspend at your full retirement age any time before age 70, when the suspension is lifted you can say I want to go retro," Moisand said.
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