Can My Wife File For Retirement Benefits Retroactively?

Dec 21 2016 - 8:15am

Below I have cut and pasted my previous question and your reply. My new question is--can my wife--once we pay back the 3 months, back apply for those same 3 months
at her own social secuity rate of $750.00 per month for those 3 months only? She is currently after receiving the 3 months we are paying back half of my(her spouses) social security amount that I would have received in April. While I am receiving a higher amount as it went up a little between April and August when I started. cut and paste below:( I do not want to upset the apple cart so to speak by asking)
Category: File and Suspend Strategy Deadline
>My wife turned 66 in April 2016, and I turned 68 in April 2016. We applied
>for social security retirement in June 2016.
> My ss to start in August as I wanted. We were told by ss at the time of
>application on the phone(they phoned us after we applied on line)
> They informed us that my wife would only get half of what my total was
>based on her birthday of April 2016 and never a higher amount.
> They offered to back pay her for April, May and June at half of what I
>would have received in April 2016. And continue my wifes at that same rate
>after those 3 months.
> They did. Now they want the amount she was paid back , in a letter to her
>that sights the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 which they say was an error
>saying"you cannot receive wife benefit's if your husband is in suspense to
>earn a higher benefit" I had no idea I suspended anything as I was just
>waiting since I had for many years. They sent me a print out that says I
>suspended. I presume the clerk did that . I do not remember. I had no idea
>and if I suspended it was because they told me to do that when they offered
>to backdate my wifes half payment. Are they correct and should I pay them
>back? I can find no professional any help for ss retirement payments
>anywhere. So I am on my own. I can afford to pay them back but hope they are
>wrong since I do not understand how I suspended. I went to local office
>earlier this summer and they said okay to me. Then in November another
>letter comes and says we still need to pay back as it was in error. We can
>appeal of course but should I ?
> Or am I likely wasting my time.
> Thankyou

Unfortunately, if you didn't file your claim until June 2016, your wife can't
be paid spousal benefits on your record for any months that you aren't also
drawing your benefits. This is due to the new law passed by Congress last
year ( If you had filed
for and suspended your benefits prior to April 30 2016, then your wife would
have been able to draw spousal benefits even for the months that your
benefits were in suspense.

So, even though this was clearly Social Security's mistake, it sounds like
the notice of overpayment that your wife received is correct. If you were
financially unable to repay the overpayment you could apply for waiver
but you've indicated that's not the case. I can't advise you whether or not
to file an appeal, but based on your description of events, it sounds like an
appeal is unlikely to be approved.

Best, Jerry


I'm assuming from your question that your wife initially filed for spousal benefits only effective with April 2016, with the intention of waiting until age 70 to apply on her own record. That may still be her best option, depending on the rate of her current spousal benefit.

Your wife could opt to file on her own record now, but she could only claim up to 6 months of retroactive entitlement. So, if she filed this month, June 2016 would be the earliest month that she could claim benefits on her own record. And, if she does that, she would lose the delayed retirement credits that she would have gotten by not yet filing for benefits on her own record.

So, your idea may be okay, but probably only if your wife's own benefit rate would always be lower than her spousal rate, even if she waited until age 70 to start drawing on her own account. If her own full retirement age rate is $750, that means it would be around $990 if she waits until age 70 to start drawing on her own. If that's the case, and her current spousal rate is more than $990, there probably wouldn't be a downside to her claiming her own benefits retroactive to June 2016.

Best, Jerry