Can My Wife Receive Spousal Benefits If I File And Suspend?

Dec 27 2016 - 10:00am

I am 65 years old, 7/31/1951. I just retired but do not plan to file for my social security benefits until my 70th birthday. My wife is 62, 4/8/1954 and will continue to work as long as possible. We both have about similar maximum retirement earnings benefits, my wife's are probably about 5% higher than mine. My question: Once I turn 66, in July, do I have the option of filing and suspending, so my wife can collect her spousal benefit. With two possibilities: she is working at the time and earning over $100,000 or she might be temporally unemployed.

Hi,

The answer to your question is no, for multiple reasons. Under the new law, your wife would be deemed to file on her own record whenever she applied for spousal benefits (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/deemedfaq.html). It sounds like her own full retirement age benefit rate will be well over 50% of your's, so that would rule out spousal benefits for her at any time.

Another provision of the new law is that no one can receive benefits on your record while your benefits are voluntarily suspended, nor could you receive benefits on anyone else's record while your own benefits are in suspense (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/suspendfaq.html).

Also, the earnings test (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking2.html) would prevent someone earning $100K per year from receiving benefits prior to the year in which they reach full retirement age.

What you should consider doing is running the maximization software available on this website. It is programmed to factor in all of rules mentioned above, and it should help guide you to the best filing strategy for both you and your wife.

Best, Jerry