Can My Wife Get Spousal Benefits Or File For Her Own Benefits Now And Upgrade To Spousal Benefits Later?

Category: 
Jan 8 2019 - 5:11pm

I am 66 but claiming ss benefits yet. My wife is 63 and wants to file for benefits. Can she get spousal benefits of can she file for her own and then upgrade to spousal benefits later when I file.

Hi,

I assume you meant to type that you're not yet claiming Social Security benefits. If that's correct, your wife couldn't get spousal benefits at least until you start drawing your Social Security retirement benefits. She could file for her own retirement benefits now and potentially qualify for additional spousal benefits when you file for your retirement benefits, but she'd keep any rate reduction that she takes in return for starting her benefits early.

For example, say Mary files for her Social Security retirement benefits at age 63. Mary's full retirement age rate, or primary insurance amount (PIA), would be $800, but she receives a reduced rate of $633 in return for starting to draw early. Four years later, Mary's husband files for his benefits with a PIA of $2000. Mary's spousal amount would be calculated by subtracting her PIA from 50% of her spouse's PIA, which in this case would be $200 (i.e. $2000/2 - $800). That $200 spousal benefit would then be added to Mary's own reduced retirement rate of $633 to give her a combined rate of $833.

I should add that if your wife does start drawing her retirement benefits before you file for your benefits, you would likely be able to draw spousal benefits on her record while still allowing your own retirement benefit rate to continue to grow. The reason you would have that option is because you were born prior to January 2 1954, so you are not affected by the 2015 amendments to the deeming rules (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/deemedfaq.html).

Before filing, you and your wife should strongly consider using our software to explore and compare your filing options so that you can choose the best possible strategy for claiming your benefits.

Best, Jerry