Can I Take My Benefit Now And Let My Divorced Spousal Benefits Ride Until Age 70?

Dec 3 2018 - 5:18pm

I am about to turn 66 in February of '19 (FRA) divorced for several years and never remarried. I plan on taking my SS retirement at that time. I was born in 1953 and if I am reading your book correctly I am one of those that wouldn't be deemed as having to take my divorced spousal benefit. I was married 25 years and he always made more than I did. My benefit amount will be about $1200 a month at FRA and $1600 at 70. His is most likely around $2500 or $2600 or possibly more. Can I take my benefit now and let my spousal ride until 70 and if so will my spousal benefit increase the longer I let it ride. He is 7 years older and has been taking his SS for years. This would be so much easier to figure out if I had access to his SS statement. Thanks in advance.


Well, you could file for just your retirement benefits at full retirement age (FRA) and then file for divorced spousal benefits at age 70, but there'd be no good reason to do so since your divorced spousal rate wouldn't get higher if you wait past FRA to apply. However, if you file for either retirement or divorced spousal benefits prior to FRA, you'll be deemed to be applying for both benefits and you'll only get the higher of the two rates. As long as your ex is still living, your unreduced divorced spousal rate at FRA or later would be equal to 50% of your ex's full retirement age rate, or primary insurance amount (PIA). But, if and when you file for both retirement and divorced spousal benefits you can only receive the higher of the two rates, which would be reduced for age if you file before FRA.

So, lets say for example that your retirement benefit rate at FRA (PIA) is $1200, and your ex's PIA is $2500. In that case if you filed for both retirement and divorced spousal benefits at FRA, you'd get your own PIA of $1200 plus a divorced spousal benefit of $50 (i.e. $2500/2 - $1200).

But, since you were born prior to January 2 1954, you could file just for divorced spousal benefits at FRA and allow your own retirement benefit rate to grow until age 70. If you did that in the above example, you'd receive a divorced spousal benefit of $1250 starting at FRA, and then at age 70 you could switch to your own higher retirement benefit rate. If your own PIA is $1200, your retirement benefit rate would be roughly $1584 (i.e. $1200 x 1.32) if you wait until age 70 to start drawing retirement benefits.

Social Security can't give you information about your ex's earnings or benefit rate, but they should be able to tell you how much you could receive if you file for divorced spousal benefits at FRA or earlier. You may also want to consider using our software in order to explore and compare your various filing options so you'll be sure to choose the best possible strategy.

Best, Jerry