R became entitled to early social security retirement benefits in 1957 upon attaining age 62. Her primary insurance amount (the amount she would have received if she had begun receiving benefits at her full retirement age of 65) was $47.90 per month. Because of her early retirement, her benefits were reduced by 5/9 of one percent for each month between the ages of 62 and 65, or 36 months. This reduction, rounded down to the nearest dime, was $9.50, so that R received $38.40 per month in early retirement benefits. By January 1967, amendments to the social security act had increased her primary insurance amount to $55 per month and her monthly benefits to $44.80.
R’s husband, H, also filed for social security retirement benefits and, in January 1967 when he began receiving benefits, his primary insurance amount was $112.40. In June 1967 R filed for wife’s social security insurance benefits and was awarded $1.20 per month beginning January 1967. She complained, arguing that she should have been awarded $56.20, or one-half of her husband’s primary insurance amount. Wife would have had a good point if she had not also been receiving early retirement benefits on her account.
But, pursuant to statute, R’s wife’s benefits first needed to be reduced by the same amount her retirement benefits were reduced because of her early retirement, or $55 – $44.80 = $10.20. This brought her wife’s benefits down to $46 per month.
But wait, there’s more. Again, pursuant to statute, this $46 figure needed to be reduced by the amount of her early retirement benefits, or $46 – $44.80 = $1.20.
Thus, R’s combined monthly social security benefit amount was $44.80 (early retirement) + $1.20 (wife’s benefits) = $46.
See Social Security Ruling (SSR) 69-13.
This material should not be construed as legal advice for any particular fact situation, but is intended for general informational purposes only. For advice specific to any individual situation, an experienced attorney should be contacted.
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