Have Dependent Children? Social Security Dependent Benefits May Make Taking Social Security Early a Good Choice for Your Retirement

You have probably read and reread that you should delay the start of your Social Security benefits until at least your full retirement date (typically around age 66 if you are retiring soon). This advice is probably good for most people because delaying the start of benefits increases your monthly Social Security checks for your lifetime.

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However, there are exceptions to every rule. One circumstance when you may want to consider taking Social Security as early as possible is when you have dependents (such as children under age 18). And, it is increasingly common for older Americans to have dependent children.

If you are 62 or over and have dependent children under the age of 18, then they are probably entitled to Social Security benefits for children worth up to half of your Social Security amount. In some cases it may make financial sense for you to claim Social Security as early as you are eligible.

Everyone is eligible to start taking Social Security benefits at age 62 but many experts recommend that you delay starting until your full retirement age (usually about 66) – if not your maximum retirement age (about age 72) – because for every month that you delay the start of Social Security, you increase the amount you will receive (typically by about 8% per year).

However, the additional benefit you would receive for a dependent child could add up to more money than the increased monthly amount you would earn if you delayed till your full retirement age.

How To Decide When to Start Social Security with Dependent Children?

There are a number of variables to balance when deciding when to start Social Security benefits. If you have dependent kids, here are few things to consider:

Are you currently working: If you are currently working, then the penalties you might receive might receive for collecting Social Security early might be too great. However, you may be able to file and suspend receipt of your own benefits and avoid these penalties while still collecting the dependent benefit.

How old is your child: If your child is 17 and you would only receive the child benefit for one year, it might make less sense than if your child is younger and you would receive the additional benefit for a longer period of time.

How long will you live: While this is not something that you can actually predict, it is a factor to consider when deciding when to start Social Security. If you live a very long time, delaying the start of your benefit for a higher monthly lifetime amount is a good idea. If you will not live very long, then starting the benefits early makes more sense.

How to Determine if Can Get Social Security for Kids

According to the Social Security Administration’s publication, “Benefits for Children,” if you are eligible for benefits yourself, you can claim benefits for a dependent who is your biological, adopted or dependent stepchild if the child is:

  • Unmarried
  • Younger than age 18
  • 18 or 19 years old and a full time student in elementary or secondary school
  • 18 or older and disabled – if the disability began before the child was 22

These rules for Social Security benefits for children are fairly straightforward.

What About Grandchildren?

If you are a grandparent who cares for your grandchildren, you might wonder if they are eligible for benefits.

However, it is rare for grandchildren to receive Social Security benefits from their grandparents unless:

  • Both parents are disabled or dead
  • You have formally adopted the children

Social Security Resources

The decision of when to start Social Security can be incredibly complicated. You can get more information from Social Security online or by calling toll free: 800 772 1213.

Calculating your Social Security is important and should be an important part of your overall retirement plan. Here are some resources to help you assess Social Security and how the benefits fit into your overall retirement:

Retirement Planner: The NewRetirement Planner will give you an automated assessment of your current plan and easy suggestions for improving your finances.

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