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Also, the month you begin taking your benefits may affect how much you receive. In some cases, the month you choose to retire will result in added benefits for you and your family. Taking your bene- fits early in the year you are going to retire may benefit you more than waiting, even though you aren’t officially retiring until later that year. Under the current law, Social Security recipients receive the most benefits possible with an application that takes effect in Janu- ary of their retirement year.

Family and Survivor’s Benefits Social security also offers benefits for those who either worked but didn’t earn enough credits or fall under different categories other than workers. If you are widowed, married, or even divorced, you can claim social security benefits off of the work record of your spouse (or former spouse). If you are receiving benefits, your family mem- bers may also receive benefits if they fall into one of the following categories:

  • your spouse age 62 or older

  • your spouse under age 62, if that person is caring for your child who is under age 16 or disabled

  • your former spouse age 62 or older

  • children up to age 18

  • children age 18–19, if they are full-time high school students

  • children over age 18, if they are disabled Widows and widowers may begin receiving benefits when they

are 60 years old, or 50 years old if they are disabled. This also includes divorced widow(er)s. If you are receiving widows’ or wid- owers’ benefits, you may switch to your own benefits when you reach 62 as long as your retirement benefits are more than what you are currently receiving. Often times, a widow(er) may begin receiv- ing one benefit and then switch to the other (unreduced) benefit when he or she reaches full retirement age.

For spouses, they can receive one-half of their retired spouses’ benefits unless the spouse begins collecting before he or she turns 65. If that’s the case, the benefits are permanently reduced by a cer- tain percentage based on the number of months that are left before

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