Ask Larry

Can My Wife Claim Her Social Security At Age 62 And Switch To Spousal Benefits At Age 67?

My wife worked until around 10 years ago. She has become a homemaker since then. We are both 49 years old. I have a full time job and a small pension to pay our bills and whatnot. My question is can my wife claim her social security at 62 and then switch to spousal social security when I retire at 67?

Hi. No, your wife can't start drawing her own benefit first and later switch to drawing spousal benefits. Since your wife was born after January 1 1954 she'll be deemed to be applying for both her own Social Security retirement benefits and for spousal benefits whenever she applies for either benefit. If you haven't yet started drawing your benefits when your wife applies for her benefits, she'll be obligated to start drawing any excess spousal benefits for which she qualifies as soon as you start drawing your benefits.

For example, say Amy files for her own benefits in 2021 at age 62. Amy's primary insurance amount (PIA), or full retirement age rate, would be $800, but Amy's rate is reduced for age to $570. In 2023, when Amy is 64, her husband applies for his benefits. Amy's husband's PIA is $2000, so Amy's unreduced excess spousal rate is calculated by subtracting her PIA from 50% of her husband's PIA. In Amy's case, that amounts to $200 (i.e. $2000/2 - $800). However, since Amy is only 64 when she becomes eligible for spousal benefits her spousal rate is reduced to $152. That amount is then paid in addition to Amy's own reduced rate of $570 to give her a combined rate of $722.

Best, Jerry

Category: 
Posted: 
Jul 9 2021 - 10:06am
MaxiFi software running on a laptop
Get What's Yours!
Discover tens of thousands in extra retirement dollars with Maximize My Social Security software!
  • Find your maximized strategy
  • Unlimited what-ifs
  • Step-by-Step filing instructions
  • Our software's lifetime-benefit increase for an illustrative couple earning $65K each and planning to take retirement benefits at 62.

    Results will differ based on your specific case and filing strategy.

Getting Started is Easy
Web-based software. Works on ALL browsers. No download.
$40 Annual Household License
$299 Annual Financial Advisor License