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The So-Called 'New' Social Security Rules Are Actually the Old Rules There is just so darn much misinformation out there about new Social Security rules. These rules have to do with the eventual elimination of the maximizing strategies known as "file and restrict" and "file and suspend." Every single day, I get …Read more. How to Deal With the Social Security Earnings Penalties I've gotten more than a few emails recently from Social Security beneficiaries who are under age 66 and still working and who are trapped in the web of Social Security's convoluted earnings penalty rules and the way they are administered. Those …Read more. Long Gone Husband May Mean Extra Social Security to Some I gave a couple women very nice Christmas presents over the recent holiday season. And I'm not talking about the lingerie I got my wife or the coffee maker I got my daughter. I'm talking about the gift of extra Social Security benefits I got for two …Read more. The Lights Are Still Shining Brightly at SSA About a month ago, I wrote a column about possible declining service at the Social Security Administration. I pointed out that I get frequent emails from readers who complain about overflowing waiting rooms, generally unpleasant surroundings, and …Read more.
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It's Generally Worth It to Take Benefits at Age 62


Q: My husband is about to turn age 62. He isn't in the best of health. He's been an actor most of his life but he never made much money. (Most actors don't make the kind of money Tom Cruise does!) His annual Social Security statements say he can expect to get a small retirement check of about $500. On the other hand, I've always made quite a bit of money. My Social Security statements say I should get $2,200 per month. So I always assumed my husband would be able to get part of my Social Security. The problem is I'm only 55 years old and won't be eligible for Social Security for seven years. A friend told us my husband should not take his Social Security until he is 66 years old because if he took early retirement now, he would not be able to switch to my benefits later on. Is this true?

A: No, it's not true. Your husband will be able to get some additional "husband's benefits" on your record — once you've signed up for retirement benefits yourself — no matter when he starts his own Social Security.

So I think he should apply for his Social Security at age 62. Some would argue that he'd be ahead to wait until age 66 because at that age he'll get his full Social Security benefit. Instead of $500 monthly, it might be $700 or so. But as I see it, if he waits until age 66, he's throwing away $24,000 ($500 per month for the 48 months between age 62 and 66). He'd have to live long past age 66 to make up the money he'd lose by not taking early retirement. And you said he isn't in the best of health anyway. So I think he should take his Social Security money now, make the most of it while he can, and then get some additional benefits on your record seven years from now when you turn 62.

By the way, your husband might want to think about applying for Social Security disability benefits. The advantage to a disability check is that it pays the same rate as his age 66 Social Security benefit.

He can apply for early retirement and disability at the same time. Social Security will pay his reduced retirement benefits right away, and if his disability claim is approved, switch him to the higher disability rate. If he gets disability checks, he will still be able to switch to husband's benefits on your record later on.

Q: I am 53 years old and I have a nervous condition, a bad back, fibromyalgia and high blood pressure. Despite all those problems, I've worked most of my life. But recently, I had to switch to part-time work. I'm now working about 20 hours per week. Can I get Social Security disability benefits to supplement my work income?

A: I never discourage anyone from applying for Social Security disability benefits. It doesn't hurt to fill out an application and see what happens.

But I don't think you should get your hopes up too high. If you are making anywhere near $1,000 per month, the Social Security Administration probably can't classify you as legally "disabled." The key eligibility factor for Social Security disability benefits is not that you have all those medical problems. The key factor is the impact those problems have on your ability to work.

In a nutshell, the law says this: To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must have an impairment that keeps you from doing "substantial work." And the regulations currently define substantial work as any job that pays you $980 or more per month. So if you are making that kind of money, you simply are not eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

But if your medical impairments ever force you to stop working, or reduce your hours to the point where you are making less than $980 monthly, then you should file for Social Security disability benefits immediately. The application process will take about three months and then it would be roughly another three months after that before your benefits begin.

To find out more about Tom Margenau and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



6 Comments | Post Comment
my question is if a person who was on social security disability because his disabilities does not allow him to work and turned 62 years old and begins his/her social security retirement can they still reapply for social security disability for insurance only? they were told at age 62 he would be cut off of social security disability and had to apply for social security retirement causing him to lose his medical coverage which he now does not have prescription coverage on his medically prescribed prescriptions if there is anyone out there that can answer these questions please let me know
Comment: #1
Posted by: amy taylor
Fri Jan 22, 2010 7:23 PM
I took an early retirement from my school district at 55 (not a teacher) and receive a PERS pension. I am now 60. After that I have been working in school offices as a substitute. The down side is that due to a PERS rule Social Security deductions cannot be taken out so I have not contributed to Social Security for 5 years. My question is: Is it worth it or even possible for me to make up those contributions?
Comment: #2
Posted by: Patsy Bartley
Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:01 AM
My mother has an eye condition which causes her great pain. She is 62 years old currently. She went and talked to someone at our local social security office about retiring. He informed her that she would not qualify for any medical benefits until she is 65 years old. She also has been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Needless to say, she does have medical obligations to where she can not afford to be without insurance coverage. With prescriptions and such. Is there any sort of medical coverage that she would qualify for if she was to retire before age 65? She is a seamstress and the lint and glitter and pieces of threads gets into her eyes which makes her eye condition even more hard to live with!
Comment: #3
Posted by: LeAnn
Thu Feb 10, 2011 5:25 PM
Hello - My husband is 62 and was rejected for early retirement because he has been"self" employed for 20 years, Pres. of a small remodel/construction company that he owns. ( Mainly he owns the risk and the stress!) Before that, he was a factory manager for another co. He has always paid Social Security/FICA wages and has accrued enough to entitle him to about $1200/mo. benefits at age 62.

The Social Security agent he talked to will not even accept his application, saying that his business "ownership" position enables him to "hide" income in order to keep it low enough to receive benefits! So in essence, my husband is being accused of defrauding the govt ! The agency will not allow him to apply before age 66.

The real estate and homebuilding bust has hit remodeling very hard. My husband's busines has fallen way off and he has laid off all but one employee. His income the past three years has been below $30K. By age 66, he will either have lost this business entirely or be disabled, doing most of the hard labor himself now.

We've taken the issue up with our tax specialist/advisor, but this is a new one for him. Can you help? Where in the Social Security Law does it say that the govt. can make what amounts to a defamatory judgment about your character? How can they withhold benefits on this basis?

Would appreciate any information or resources you or readers can provide. THANK YOU!!!
Comment: #4
Posted by: DebbieG
Mon Jul 11, 2011 12:49 PM
i am 55 years old i have been on disability for almost 2 yrs. i was told by 3 dr. i can not work no more i have worked 6 years more then they thought i could. now my job says i need to retire what kind of retirement i am only 55 years i have worked for broward county schools. for 22 years
Comment: #5
Posted by: bonnie
Sun Sep 11, 2011 8:28 AM
Re: bonnie
Comment: #6
Posted by: bonnie
Sun Sep 11, 2011 8:38 AM
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Tom Margenau
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