Mike – Texas: I am 62, and plan to file soon for Social Security. I understand that my son, who is 12, can get benefits based on my earnings record. My wife would also like to apply for a spousal benefit. Will there be any limits on their benefits?
Phil Moeller: Your son and wife cannot both receive their full Social Security benefits based on your earnings record. That’s because their filings are likely to exceed what’s called the family maximum benefit (FMB). This is the amount of money that can be paid out on based on a single worker’s earnings record. If both of them file, the odds are their benefits would be proportionally reduced to avoid exceeding your FMB.
If you haven’t already done so, open an online My Social Security account. It displays your formal earnings record and includes estimates of your various benefits, including your FMB. You then should be able to approximate the size of their respective benefits, and the extent to which they would be reduced by the FMB.