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Social Security benefits: all in the family

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Q. We had children late in life. If I collect Social Security early at age 62, will my children’s benefits be affected by my earnings? M.M.L., Cedar Rapids, Iowa

A. Yes. Children are eligible to receive benefits until age 18 if you start collecting Social Security benefits at the early retirement age of 62. But a family’s combined benefits are generally limited to 150% to 180% of your benefit at full retirement age.

Also, under the “earnings test,” if you claim benefits at age 62, the family’s benefits are reduced by $1 for every $2 earned above an annual threshold ($14,160 for 2011). For details, visit the Social Security Administration site at www.ssa.gov.

Tip: If you’re unsure about the math, ask the SSA or a financial pro for help.

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