Can My Wife Get Spousal Benefits On My Record If I'm Not Drawing My Benefits?

Category: 
Jan 5 2017 - 6:15am

Hello Larry,

You are right about the good intentioned SSA online help folks who do not provide clear answers. My question is as follows: My wife began collecting her SSA benefit at 62. She will be 65 this year. I'm older and will be 66 this year. I am not collecting my benefits and am considering waiting to 70 as you suggest. If I delay receiving my benefits until age 70, can my wife apply to collect 50% of my age 66 benefit amount (which would be higher then her benefit) when she reachs her full retirement age (66), even though I am not collecting my benefit. I also believe she will be entitled to a higher spousal death benefit as well if I wait until the age of 70. Hope you can help clarify my questions about her collecting half of my age 66 benefit even though I'm not collecting my benefit. Thanks!

Hi,

No, your wife cannot get spousal benefits unless you are drawing your benefits. Even if you filed and suspended your benefits at age 66, your wife could not receive spousal benefits while your benefits are in suspense thanks the new law on voluntary suspensions passed by Congress in 2015 (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/suspendfaq.html).

What you could do instead is file a restricted application for spousal benefits only on your wife's record when you reach age 66. You could then draw spousal benefits for 4 years while letting your own benefit rate grow until age 70. And, when you file for your benefits at age 70, your wife could then potentially receive additional spousal benefits from your record, but only if 50% of your full retirement age benefit rate is higher than her own full retirement age benefit rate.

You may want to consider running the maximization software available on this website in order to explore all of your filing options and determine the best strategy.

Best, Jerry