Is It True That I Don't Qualify For Spousal Benefits?

Dec 19 2016 - 12:45pm

At 62 I was advised by Social Security to begin taking my benefits because eventually I would take half of my husband's Social Security. My husband is 66 and applying for benefits. However Social Security is now telling us I will never be able to do this, as my full benefits at the age of 66 ( 1294.60) ! would be $40 more than half of his which would be 1249.20. Is this true? Is there something we can do? Now I am in the position of never being able to collect full benefits, which means a loss of more than $300.

Hi,

Yes, it sounds like you don't qualify for spousal benefits. In order to qualify, 50% of your husband's full retirement age rate would have to exceed your own full retirement age rate, which is apparently not true in your case. Even if you did qualify for an excess spousal benefit (i.e. the difference between 50% of your husband's full retirement age rate and your own full retirement age rate), you would still keep the reduction that you took on your own record for filing early.

I doubt if there's much that you can do at this point. You must normally withdraw an application for retirement benefits within 12 months of the month you became entitled in order for it to be approved (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/withdrawal.html). You could insist on filing a formal request for withdrawal of your application and explain that you were misinformed by a Social Security representative, but I'd frankly be surprised if such a request was approved. And, even if they did allow you to withdraw your application, you would have to repay all of the benefits that you've received up until now.

Best, Jerry