Can A Wife Receive Spousal Benefits While Her Own Benefits Are In Suspense?

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Mar 15 2017 - 12:00pm

At age 62 the wife (full PIA at 66) starting receiving her worker’s benefit. At age 66 (full PIA age) the husband filed, suspended, and starting receiving spousal benefit on the wife’s earnings record (smaller earnings than husband). In the same month, we suspended the wife’s worker’s benefit. These events occurred before the change in the law in April 2016. Now before either of us turn age 70, can the wife start receiving spousal benefit on the husband’s earnings record and allow the wife’s suspended worker’s benefit to continue to grow at 8% per year? I know this move would terminate the husband receiving spousal benefit on the wife’s earnings record.

Hi,

Well, I'm assuming that the husband did not in fact file and suspend on his own record, or else he would only be receiving an excess spousal benefit, at best (https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0202409100). And, since the wife has already filed and suspended her own benefits, at best she could only receive an excess spousal benefit on her husband's record, and only if she suspended her retirement benefits prior to April 30 2016 and if her husband files for and starts receiving his own benefits.

Once a person files for benefits on their own record, that becomes their primary benefit for life, even if they choose to voluntarily suspend their benefits between full retirement age and age 70. If they are also entitled to spousal benefits, their spousal rate is calculated by subtracting their own full retirement age benefit rate (PIA) from 50% of their spouse's PIA.

Best, Jerry