Am I Allowed To File For Benefits On My Ex-Spouse's Record At FRA And Allow My Own Benefit Rate To Grow Until Age 70?

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Nov 17 2019 - 8:33pm

Hi Larry, my DOB is 4/21/54. I was a stay at home mom until divorced in 2009 (married 35 yrs). I have been working for ten yrs and am eligible to collect $799 at my FRA of 66 in April 2020. My ex-spousal benefit at 66 will be $1,060. I have been told by two SS call center persons that I can start collecting my ex-spousal benefit in April and let mine grow until I’m 70. But according to what I read on the SS website, I missed that option having been born after Jan 1, 1954. I even read the paragraph to one of them. She said that doesn’t apply to me because l am waiting until FRA to collect. Can you clarify this for me? If I can do that, I will wait until April. If not, I will start collecting in January when the earnings limit will not affect me. Thank you so much!

Hi,

Assuming that your ex-spouse is still living, then it sounds like you were misinformed by the Social Security representative with whom you spoke. Only people born prior to January 2 1954 are allowed to file for spousal or divorced spousal benefits without also being deemed to file for their own Social Security retirement benefits at the same time (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/claiming.html). Therefore, regardless of when you apply for benefits you'll be deemed to be filing for both divorced spousal benefits and your own Social Security retirement benefits. The result would be that you would then only receive basically the higher of the two benefit rates, and your benefit rate would be reduced for age if you start drawing prior to your FRA.

However, if your ex-spouse is deceased and if you haven't yet claimed your Social Security retirement benefits, you could then file for surviving divorced spousal benefits while allowing your own benefit rate to grow until age 70. In fact, you could even file for survivor benefits prior to your FRA without being deemed to be filing for your own benefits, but your benefit payments could then be subject to full or partial withholding until you reach FRA depending on how much you are earning (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking.html).

Your best strategy, therefore, depends largely on whether or not your ex-spouse is still living. You may want to consider using our software (https://maximizemysocialsecurity.com/purchase) to fully explore and compare all of your filing options in order to determine the best way to maximize your benefits.

Best, Jerry