Can My Wife File For Spousal Benefits Before Filing For Her Own Benefits?

Feb 6 2017 - 6:30am

In your new book (Get What's Yours - revised edition) page 57 about spousal benefits - I'm still confused. Here's what we want to do. I'm now 62 and plan on waiting until my FRA to take my full benefit (age 66). My wife will be 64.5 then. When we turn on my benefit at 66 can we at the same time turn on my wife's spousal benefit, meaning I will get my full amount and she will get an amount equal to 50% of mine, until she decides to turn off her spousal benefit and turn on her own full benefit when she turns 66 (and some months)? Thanks for the advice, Steve

Hi Steve,

The answer is no. It sounds like both you and your wife were born after January 1 1954, which means that neither of you has the option of filing for spousal benefits at any time without also being deemed to file on your own record (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/deemedfaq.html). Thus, if your wife files for spousal benefits at age 64.5, she'll also be required to take her own benefits at the same time and she'll only receive essentially the higher of the two benefits. And, her benefit rate will be reduced for age if she starts drawing before full retirement age.

What you may want to do is run the maximization software available on this website in order to determine the best filing strategy for you and your wife.

Best, Jerry