Can My Wife Get Spousal Benefits At Age 66 And Then Switch To Her Own Record At Age 70?

Feb 2 2017 - 3:30pm

I have listened to your book in audio form. Thank you! My question is this: If both my wife and I delay receiving our SSI benefits until age 70 (at which time her benefit will exceed any spousal benefit she could receive on my earnings) , can my wife claim spousal benefits on my earnings from age 66 to 70, and not impact her own SSI benefit at age 70? If your answer is "Yes," does she need to wait until she reaches age 66 to take the spousal benefit? or can she do that when I reach 66? We don't want to be "deemed." Has the law closed whereby this strategy has been eliminated? Here is a bit of our data: I am age 64.5 (born in 1952) and will turn 66 nine months before my wife. My current anticipated full SSI benefit is almost three times her anticipated full SSI benefit.

Hi,

I'm assuming that by SSI you mean Social Security benefits and not Supplemental Security Income, which is a needs based program that Social Security administers.

Since both you and your wife were born prior to January 2 1954, either of you would have the option of filing for spousal benefits only at full retirement age (FRA)--but not before that--without being deemed to have also applied for benefits on your own record. However, you can only receive spousal benefits if your spouse is drawing their own benefits. You can no longer file and suspend your own benefit in order to allow your spouse to receive spousal benefits on your record (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/suspendfaq.html).

If your full retirement age benefit rate is 3 times as much as your wife's, the best strategy may be for her to file for her benefits either when she turns 66 or when you turn 66. That way, you could file for spousal benefits only on her record, and then switch to your own record at age 70. And, when you start drawing on your own record, your wife could file for an excess spousal benefit on your record. You may want to strongly consider using the maximization software available on this website in order to make sure that you choose the best filing strategy.

Best, Jerry