The advantage of being married in retirement is that you have a partner to share experiences and expenses with. However, the disadvantage is that you have more costs.
It costs more money to pay for food, health care and other necessities for two people than for one. But thankfully, senior couples typically receive more Social Security income than singles.
In 2022, the average individual monthly Social Security benefit will be $1,657. That number accounts for the 5.9% cost of living recipients will receive in the new year.
Meanwhile, the average senior couple on Social Security will be lining up for $2,753 a month in benefits next year. And you may notice that number isn’t twice as high as the average individual benefit.
Why? It is often the case that within a given pair there is a higher earner and a lower earner. And that alone could explain why the average benefit for couples is not twice as high as the average benefit for singles.
Also, many married seniors take advantage of partner benefits in situations where a spouse has never worked and therefore is not entitled to benefits based on his or her own work record. Those who are married and claim partner benefits can receive up to 50% of their spouse’s monthly Social Security salary, which also explains the lower benefit for couples.
How married couples can get more out of Social Security
You may be surprised to learn that the average couple will receive just $2,753 a month in benefits next year. If that number sounds shockingly low to you, the good news is that there are things you can do to increase it.
If you’re getting ready to retire, one option is to have you, your spouse, or both of you put in a little more time in the workforce if your earnings are much higher now than they were earlier in your career. When calculating the benefit to which you are entitled, social security takes into account your 35 best-paid income years. And so if you can work longer, you could replace some lower-paid years with higher earnings in that formula.
You and your spouse can also coordinate your Social Security application to grow your collective benefit. For every year you wait to sign up for Social Security after full retirement age, your benefits increase by 8%.
Now let’s assume that both you and your spouse are entitled to a monthly benefit based on your own respective employment data, and that you both have a full retirement age of 67. If one of you postpones the benefit until age 70, while the other 67, you will get some money sooner while the other benefit gets a big boost.
Do you have to take the average monthly benefit into account?
It can be helpful to know what the average senior couple with Social Security will be lining up for in 2022. That said, just because the average couple earns $2,753 a month doesn’t mean that your benefits if you are married. A combination of factors, such as higher lifetime wages and delayed filing, can leave you with a lot more retirement income to look forward to, so don’t be too stingy if that $2,753 a month is a lower number than you’d like it to be.
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