My wife started receiving her social security at the age of 65 (her full retirement age) and she will be 69 in July. I was able to receive half of her social security under an older law. By April I will turn 70 and will start receiving my own social security. I know I will no longer receive a spouse benefit at that time, but what I do not understand is whether my wife will be able to claim a spouse benefit and charge 50% of my social security. She currently receives around $ 930, but 50% of my social security may be around $ 1,800. Can you give any insight into this?
You are right that you are now collecting your spouse’s benefit under an “old law” that was amended by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 and is no longer available to anyone born after January 1, 1954. You are also right that as you are When you now receive a spouse’s benefit from your wife on a “limited spouse-only benefit” application, you can claim your personal SS pension benefit starting at age 70, at which point your wife’s spouse’s benefit ceases. You can apply for your 70-year-old unemployment benefit now, before April, but just make sure to indicate on your application that you want your SS pension to start in April (to avoid a reduction). FYI, you can do this online at www.ssa.gov – there is a question on the application which asks if you are now charging benefits from someone else to whom you must answer “yes” and provide your wife’s CPR number. To apply online, you must first create your personal “my social security” account, which is easy to do at www.ssa.gov/myaccount. Of course, you can also apply by phone at your local SS office or by calling 1.800.772.1213, but applying online is by far the most effective method.
After you submit your application for your own SS pension, your wife may apply for spousal benefit from you, but her spousal benefit may not be exactly as you think. First, your wife’s spouse’s benefit will be based on the benefit amount you were entitled to at your full retirement age (OFF) of 66, not your 70 year benefit amount. Second, your wife was born in 1953, so her full retirement age is 66 (not 65). If your wife claimed her own SS benefit at age 65, she actually applied a year ahead of time, so it was slightly reduced from her full benefit amount. It’s not a bad thing because it allowed you to charge your spouse’s benefit a year earlier, but it will slightly affect her spouse’s benefit from you and make it a little less than 50% of your OFF benefit amount.
When a spouse takes their own benefit prematurely, their spouse’s amount will be less than 50% due to the way the spouse’s benefit is calculated. Your wife’s new benefit as your spouse will consist of two parts – her own benefit and a “spouse boost” to bring her payment to her spouse’s right. Her “spouse boost” – which is the difference between her FRA benefit and half of your FRA benefit – will be added to her slightly reduced 65-year benefit, and the total amount will be her spouse payment, but it will be a little less than 50 % of your OFF benefit amount. Nevertheless, you were smart to take advantage of an “old law” that allowed you to get a spouse benefit from your wife while your own benefit grew to the maximum.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not represent legal or financial guidance. It presents statements and interpretations from AMAC Foundation staff, trained and accredited by the National Social Security Association (NSSA). NSSA and the AMAC Foundation and its staff are not affiliated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other governmental entity. To submit a question, visit our website (amacfoundation.org/programs/social-security-advisory) or email us at [email protected].