Should I File Sooner If My Spouse Is Age 70 And Not Insured For Benefits?

Mar 5 2017 - 7:15am

Hi Larry! I've been following your column on social security for the past few years. I am currently 65 and retired unexpectedly last year. My wife is 70 but she does not have enough work credits to qualify for Social Security on her own. We were originally going to follow the File and Suspend strategy so that she could get spousal benefits next year and I could wait as long as I could until I reached 70. Since the law has changed to close this "loophole" we don't know what to do. Should I file now (or at least at FRA next year) so that my wife can get spousal benefits? Given our financial situation, I don't think we can wait until I turn 70 to file. Wouldn't the combination of her spousal benefits and my penalized benefits be better than waiting to file? Thanks, Joe

Hi Joe,

Well, there is no 'correct' answer to that question. Filing now or at age 70 or anywhere in between, are all viable options that could end up working out for the best, so it really comes down to a personal choice.

If you file now, your monthly rate will be significantly lower than if you waited until age 70 to start drawing, but your wife's rate would be the same either way. The other potential downside to filing now would be that it would potentially leave your wife with a lower monthly rate as a widow, since your wife would receive the full rate that you were receiving if you die first.

On the other hand, of course, the total benefits that you would be passing up between now and age 70 if you wait to apply would be substantial. What you should strongly consider doing is running the maximization software available on this website. That way you can compare the potential long-term effects of your filing options using your own expectations with regard to your and your wife's maximum life spans.

Best, Jerry