Stephanie O. Joy, Esq.
Life Events That Can INCREASE Your SS Benefit... If You Apply For The Increase -- Know Them.
Sometimes a life event, a good one and even a bad one, can cause our, or our family's, Social Security benefits to increase. Some of these, the SSA keeps decent track of and can notify you when it receives information. However, sometimes, you have to affirmatively know to apply because the SSA will be unaware of the event.
1) If you are on Social Security Retirement (SSR) or Disability (SSD) and you have or adopt a baby, that child will be eligible for a dependent benefit. This is very likely if this child is your only SS dependent. However, it may also be true if you only have one other dependent. This ambiguity is because of the overal "family maximum" that may collected under your work record.
2) If you are on SSR on your own record, and your higher earning spouse decides to collect SSR on his own record, you may find that your spousal benefit amount based on her work record is higher than what you have been collecting, and you may switch up.
3) If you are collecting SSR or SSD and you marry, and your new spouse is old enough for Social Security retirement, he/she, in time, may be able to collect a "spousal benefit". This can be tremendous for the spouse if he had no SSR eligibility before or if his benefit amount was lower than what your work record may provide for. 4) If your spouse passes away, and if his work record would provide you with a higher spousal survival benefit than what you would receive on your own record (or a different record if you are collecting based on the work record of an ex-spouse or a deceased prior spouse), you may be able to collect that survivor benefit rather than your own (or, more aptly, collect your own than get the spousal survivor "boost" to bring you to the total spousal survivor amount of benefit).
5) If you were supported largely by your adult child, and your child becomes eligible to collect SSR or SSD, (or passes away), you may be eligible for a supported Parent's benefit based on your child's work record.