Can I Discontinue My Disability Benefits At FRA And Receive Spousal Benefits Instead?

Feb 9 2017 - 1:00pm

I am 59 yrs. old and have been receiving SSDI for 15 years. My husband is 70 yrs. old and filed for SS retirement benefits at age 62 yrs. old. Unfortunately we were unaware of the choice to wait until he was 70 yrs. old in order for him to receive 35% more benefit money. At what age does my SSDI convert to SS retirement benefits? At that time am I eligible to file for a restricted application to receive 50% of my husbands SS retirement benefit, discontinue my SS benefits and wait until I am 70 yrs. old to file for my SS retirement benefits in order to get the 35% higher amount? My husband currently works full time and has income of $95,000.00 per yr. through his employer. Thank you for any information. Sincerely, Jennifer

Hi Jennifer,

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Social Security rewrote their rules in December 2014 to preclude this option (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/social-securitys-christmas-pres...). Even if they hadn't done so, though, the amendments subsequently passed by Congress in 2015 effectively removed this strategy for anyone born after January 1 1954 (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/deemedfaq.html).

You do still have the option to suspend your benefits when they convert to retirement benefits at your full retirement age (FRA), which would be at age 66 & 1/2 if you were born in 1957. You could then resume drawing them at age 70, at which time your benefit rate would be 28% higher (i.e. 3.5 years x 8%), not 35%. You could not, however, draw spousal benefits while your own benefits are suspended.

If 50% of your husband's full retirement age benefit rate (PIA) is higher than your disability benefit rate, you may be eligible for additional spousal benefits in the future. The earliest that you could become eligible for spousal benefits is at age 62, and your spousal benefit rate would be reduced if you start drawing them before FRA. You may want to consider running the maximization software available on this website in order to explore your options.

Best, Jerry