A Social Security check may only have your name on it, but if you are married, the decisions you make about when to sign up can also affect your spouse. The same applies to all relatives who require benefits on your work journal. Here’s a look at three ways your social security moves affect your spouse’s benefit and what you can do to maximize both.
What are spouse’s social security benefits?
Before we dive into the details of how your social security decisions affect your partner, it helps to have a basic understanding of spouse’s social benefits.
In general, you can claim social security benefits on your own work record if you have worked long enough to earn 40 credits. One credit is defined as $ 1,510 in earnings in 2022, and you can earn a maximum of four credits per year.
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But if you are married, you also have the option of getting a spouse benefit. This will be up to half of your partner’s advantage on theirs full retirement age (OFF). For most workers today, FRA is somewhere between 66 and 67.
You can only claim one benefit, and the Social Security Administration automatically gives you the greater of your own benefit or your spouse’s benefit. But the one that is larger depends in part on the movements that each person makes.
1. Your income during your working years affects their spouse benefit
Your Social security benefit is based on your average monthly income over your 35 highest earning years, adjusted for inflation. So anything you do today to increase your income will also increase your Social Security checks later, unless you earn over $ 147,000 this year. It is the maximum income that is subject to social security taxes, so earning more will not increase your benefit further.
For most people, this is not a problem. And applying for a new job, asking for a pay raise, or starting a bustle are all valid ways to try to increase your future social security benefit. And they will also increase the spousal benefit available to your partner.
2. Your income also affects their cost of living adjustments
Almost every year, social security recipients receive a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) that increases their checks. How big a difference it makes depends on what this year’s COLA is and the size of your checks.
In 2022, social security recipients received a COLA of 5.9%. This means that if you had a $ 1,600 benefit in 2021, you would now receive $ 1,694 a month in 2022. But COLAs do not only affect you. Your spouse will also see their checks grow as their benefit is based on yours.
If they qualified for a $ 800 spouse benefit in 2021, they would receive $ 847 a month in 2022 – $ 47 more a month. It’s not bad, but if their spouse’s benefits were higher, COLA’s would have an even greater effect.
Let’s say you worked hard and increased your income during your working years, qualifying for a $ 1,800 monthly benefit from your FRA. This means that your spouse would now be entitled to a $ 900 spouse benefit on their FRA. And a COLA of 5.9% on a $ 900 benefit would be worth an extra $ 53 a month. That’s $ 6 more than in our previous example.
3. Your spouse may not claim a spouse benefit before you sign up
Another thing worth noting is that your spouse may not be able to claim a spouse benefit until you sign up for Social Security. But they may still require social security on their own work journal if they qualify.
If you know that your spouse will get more out of a spouse benefit than they want from their own work journal, it may be wise to get them to sign up for the benefits before you do. They can claim as much as they can, on their own work journal, and their benefits can help you procrastinate until you are ready to sign up. When you then apply, the Social Security Administration will automatically switch your partner to a spouse benefit.
But each pair is unique. That is why it is important to sit down with your spouse and talk about when you each plan to retire and demand social security so that you can coordinate your efforts. Make a my social security account If you have not already seen how much you are getting out of the program based on your work history to date, use this as your guide when thinking about the ideal time for each of you to start claiming benefits.
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