Can I Draw Spousal Benefits On My Wife's Record Until I Reach Age 70?

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Jul 2 2018 - 8:45am

Hi Larry - Just finished the book Get What’s Yours (revised edition). Took 6 pages of notes! Still having trouble getting my arms (or brain) around everything. One question I have. I am currently 66 - born in April of 1952, so I was 62 before January 2nd 2016. My wife turns 62 this July of 2018. Can I claim benefits under her & wait until I am 70 to collect. Then allow her to collect 50% of my benefit at age 70 when she turns 66?

Hi,

You could only collect spousal benefits if your wife is drawing her benefits, and if files for her benefits at age 62 her benefit rate would be reduced by roughly 26.3%. Plus, if she's still working $1 of her benefits and your spousal benefits would be withheld for each $2 that she earns in excess of $17040 this year.

For example, say Jane files at age 62 and has a full retirement age rate (PIA) of $1200. Jane's husband Jim is age 66 and he files for spousal benefits only on Jane's record. Jane's reduced age 62 rate would be $885 and Jim's unreduced spousal rate would be $600. However, Jane is still working and will earn $28920 in 2018. Therefore, $5940 of Jane's and Jim's combined benefits would need to be withheld (i.e. ($28920-$17040)/2), and since Jane and Jim are eligible for a combined monthly amount of $1485, 4 months of their benefits would need to be withheld because of Jane's excess earnings.

Carrying the above example forward, say Jim then files for his retirement benefits at age 70 with a PIA of $2400. Jim's age 70 rate would be $3168 (i.e. $2400 x 1.32), but Jane would not be eligible for spousal benefits because 50% of Jim's PIA is not higher than Jane's own PIA. Therefore, Jane would be stuck with her reduced retirement benefits for as long as both of them are living, although Jane's reduced retirement rate would be adjusted at her full retirement age to remove any percentage reduction in her benefit rate that was assessed for any months that her benefits were withheld due to the earnings test.

It sounds like you and your wife should strongly consider using maximization software to compare all of your various filing options in order to determine your best overall strategy for claiming your benefits.

Best, Jerry