Should I FIle For My Benefits Now So That My Husband Can File For Spousal Benefits?

Apr 11 2017 - 7:45am

I am 65 and my husband is 66. He will receive the maximum social security benefit when decides to file. My benefits at 66 will be $1120 per month which is less than half of what his will be. Is our best strategy for me to go ahead and file now instead of when I turn 66 later this year and have my husband do a restricted application and take a spousal benefit at the same time? Would he receive half of my full retirement benefit (50% of $1120) even though I file 6 months before turning 66? The biggest question is when he decides to drop the spousal benefit and take his full retirement benefit, can I then switch to a spousal benefit off of him and receive half of his benefit that he would have received at 66 (50% of $2637 per month)? Also, if this is possible, will there be a small reduction in the spousal benefit I receive because I filed for my benefits 6 months before my full retirement age of 66? Thank you for any advice you can give me.

Hi,

That sounds like it may be your best option, but you may want to run the maximization software available on this website in order to be sure.

Even if you start taking your retirement benefits before full retirement age (FRA) and receive a reduced rate, your husband could file a restricted application for spousal benefits only at his FRA and receive 50% of your unreduced full retirement age rate (PIA). He could then allow his own retirement age rate to grow until age 70.

The only likely downside to this strategy is that you will be stuck with the reduction that you take on your own record, even if you later become eligible for additional spousal benefits. Here is how your strategy would play out using the figures cited in your question:

1) You file for retirement benefits at age 65 & 1/2 and receive a reduced rate of $1082, based on your PIA of $1120.
2) Your husband files for spousal benefits only at FRA and receives $560, or 50% of your PIA.
3) Your husband files for retirement benefits at age 70 and receives $3480 (i.e. 132% of his PIA of $2637).
4) You file for spousal benefits and receive about $198, which is then added to your reduced retirement benefit of $1082, giving you a combined benefit rate of $1280.

So, instead of getting a full half of your husband's PIA when he files, you would retain the reduction that you took in order to start your own benefits early. The trade-off, of course, is that it would allow your husband to start receiving his spousal benefits sooner. The maximization software should be able to help you decide which strategy is best in your case.

Best, Jerry