We often see parties in long-term marriages filing for Dissolution of Marriage while in their 60s. When addressing a party’s need for alimony, the Court must look at all sources of income for the recipient spouse. Social Security benefits received by the recipient spouse are considered income pursuant to Fla Statute 61.08. How about a situation where the recipient spouse is eligible to start receiving social security benefits at age 62, but chooses not to receive the benefits until they reach “Full Retirement Age” because the economic value of receiving the benefits early was outweighed by the benefit of electing to receive them later, should income be imputed to them?
By way of example, if someone was born in 1957 were to elect to start receiving benefits at age 62 instead of 66 ½, which is “Full Retirement Age” for someone born in 1957, their retirement benefits would be reduced by 27.5%, so if they would have otherwise been eligible to receive $1,000 per month in Social Security benefits, they would only receive $725.00 per month, for the lifetime of the benefits. So should the Court impute income of $725.00 a month to them because they could be receiving those benefits? The answer is NO.
In the case of Huertas Del Pino v. Huertas Del Pino, 229 So.3d 838 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017), the appellate Court held that a trial court may not impute, as income to a recipient spouse, the value of that spouse’s eligible, but as-yet unapplied-for, Social Security benefits, if the evidence presented demonstrates that the receiving spouse “would receive larger benefits if he or she decided to defer benefits until a later time” and if there is no evidence to suggest that the decision to defer receipt of the benefits was anything other than “a prudent investment strategy[.]”
To see what your “Full Retirement Age” for your birth year is and to find out how much your benefit will be reduced if you begin receiving benefits from age 62 up to your “Full Retirement Age”, see the Social Security Administration website at: https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/planner/agereduction.html.
At Weiner & Weiss, LLC, our lawyers help parents at every stage of their case. Members of our Family Law Practice stand ready to help you protect your rights, in court or through settlement. Call our Boca Raton office today at (561) 391-1333 or contact us online.
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