Can My Husband Get Spousal Benefits On My Record?

Category: 
Mar 19 2017 - 7:45am

I am 66 (11/50) and my husband is 67 (4/49). I began SS at 62. He was planing to hold off filing until 70 yrs of age. We recently found out that he could have been filing for half of mine since his 66 yr birthday. We have an appointment with SS on May 5 because when we went to our local office the guy at the window told us we are not eligible for that, in his words, "because your husband was the higher wage earner." We filled out the "Application for Wife's or Husband's Insurance Benefit" to take to our appointment. Now after much reading about all that's available to us, we understand that we can also get the spousal benefit retroactive for 6 months as well. Is that what you understand? Are we thinking correctly that husband, who is higher wage earner, can get half of wife's (the lower wage earner) SS PIA if he has not filed for his benefit? Thank you! BTW he is now considering applying for his own benefit at an 69 and at that time I assume I can switch over to my portion of his benefit, right?

Hi,

Yes, it sounds like your husband can file just for spousal benefits on your record, and he should be able to get the benefits for at least 6 months retroactively from the date that you made your appointment with Social Security. However, if you were dissuaded from doing this sooner because of misinformation you received from a Social Security representative, his entitlement could go back even further. You would have to establish that your husband was misinformed, though, which is explained in this section of Social Security's operations manual: https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200204008.

The spousal rate that your husband should qualify for is 50% of your full retirement age benefit rate (PIA). It doesn't matter that he is potentially eligible for more than that on his own record, as long as he doesn't file for his own retirement benefits. His best strategy is likely to wait until age 70 to switch to his own record, but you may want to run the maximization software available on this website to be sure.

When your husband files on his own record, you may become eligible for additional spousal benefits, but only if 50% of his PIA exceeds your own PIA.

Best, Jerry