Can My Wife File On Her Own Record At Age 65 And Switch To Spousal Benefits Later?

Mar 2 2017 - 6:45am

Under the laws for 2017 - can my wife who will be 65 in May 2017 start drawing Social Security against her earnings and then when I start drawing at age 66 (FRA) can she switch over to a spousal benefit which will give her more income? If so what do we need to specify when we sign her up for Social Security? Both born in 1952.
Thanks

Hi,

No, she wouldn't be able to switch to spousal benefits, but she could potentially receive an excess spousal benefit in addition to her own reduced retirement benefit. Once a person starts drawing retirement benefits on their own record, that becomes their primary benefit for life. If they subsequently become eligible for higher benefits on another record, they can't switch to that benefit, but they can potentially receive an additional excess benefit from the higher record.

So, if your wife starts drawing her own benefit at age 65, she will continue to receive a reduced benefit rate even if she later becomes eligible for an additional spousal benefit when you start drawing. A better strategy may be for your wife to file for her retirement benefits when you reach age 66 so that you can file for spousal benefits only on her record at that time. You can then let your own rate grow until age 70.

You should strongly consider running the maximization software available on this website in order to determine the best filing strategy for you and your wife.

Best, Jerry