If you are one of the thousands of baby boomers assisting your parent(s) with their financial planning, you may want to look beyond how their savings are invested and also consider whether they are receiving the most out of their Social Security benefits. Although the same rules apply to both genders, your mother will most likely benefit from a re-evaluation of her Social Security benefits—there is an increased chance that her individual benefits are less than her spouse (or ex-spouse), due to the traditional role of staying at home to care for children (and hence having lost some wage-earning years your father probably enjoyed).
The basic rule is that a person can collect Social Security benefits based on their own earnings history, or 50% of the benefit of that person’s spouse or former spouse (whichever is greater); and 100% of the benefit if that person’s spouse is deceased. Although this is the basic rule, there are many complicated nuances for former spouses taking advantage of their prior spouse’s benefit and receiving a greater Social Security benefit.
If you would like to learn more about how you may be able to increase the amount of your Social Security benefit, or that of a loved one, go here.