Early Social Security for Special Needs Adult Child?

Here was a tough question I got on a Financial Advisor Forum:

Am I eligible to collect Social Security at age 61?  Will I be penalized for collecting early, or can I receive half of my husgand's amount for taking care of our special needs child?

I'm 61 years old, soon to be 62.  I'm signing up for Social Security as soon as possible. My husband is receiving his full benefits, but is on hospice presently.  We have a special needs daughter, age 35, who lives with us. We claim her on our income tax also.

Certainly a tough situation - and not really one that is clear for anyone!  Here was my response to her:


I'm so sorry, you sound like you might be in quite a tough spot.

Here are the rules.  First, based upon what you have said, unless you are fully disabled, then you cannot draw Social Security retirement benefits until you are age 62.  At that time, (if your husband is still alive) you will have the option of drawing ONE of the following:

1)  YOUR benefit - based upon your Full Retirement Age (FRA) of Age 66, but discounted early by approximately 25-30% since you are drawing it early, OR

2) 1/2 of your husband's benefit based upon HIS work record - BUT discounted for your early withdrawal.

If your husband dies, then you will lose ONE of the benefits - but can keep the highest one.  If your husband's benefit is the highest, then you get 100% of HIS benefit, not 1/2 like you may have drawn earlier.

If your daughter is special needs, she may be entitled to benefits based upon either yours, or your husband's work record.  I'm sure you have already looked in to this, but continue to do internet searches for special needs benefits.

Are you or your husband veterans?  If so, you may be eligible for the VA's Aid and Attendance Pension - available to veterans or their spouses with long-term-care needs.  I also ran across additional eligibilities for dependent children of veterans with long-term-care needs.  
It sounds like your very best move at this point would be to consult with an Elder Law attorney who is also VA Certified.  You can find one by Googling "VA Certified Elder Lawyer" and then the name of your town and probably the top 2 or three pages will be full of ones to interview.

I wish you the best of luck, and strength, during this difficult time

Hopefully, my advice was of some help!


UncategorizedJon Castle