Can My Wife Suspend Her Benefits And Receive Spousal Benefits Instead?

Category: 
May 9 2019 - 5:09pm

My wife is currently receiving social security disabilities payments and will reach FRA next year. I am 70 and after receiving receiving spousal benefits under her disability designation I am now receiving my regular benefit. My question is if she drops her social security disability payments and suspends her regular retirement benefit before age 66 (her FRA) would she be able to receive spousal benefit under my regular benefit at 50% of my benefit?

Hi,

No. Even if your wife suspends her benefits when they convert to regular Social Security retirement benefits at her full retirement age (FRA) she would still be considered technically entitled to those benefits. If 50% of your primary insurance amount (PIA), which is your Social Security retirement benefit amount if you start drawing at FRA, is more than your wife's PIA then she could potentially qualify for additional spousal benefits. But, even those extra spousal payments couldn't be paid while her own benefits are suspended (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/suspendfaq.html).

If your wife is eligible for extra spousal benefits on your record then she would want to claim them no later than the month she reaches FRA. If she qualifies for spousal benefits and started drawing them before FRA they'd be reduced for age. But, if your wife's PIA is higher than 50% of your PIA and she doesn't qualify for extra spousal benefits, her only options would be to either continue drawing her benefits at FRA or suspend them in order to earn delayed retirement credits (DRC). DRCs would add 2/3rds of 1% for each month that your wife isn't paid benefits between FRA and age 70, but she couldn't draw any other type of Social Security benefits while her benefits are suspended.

Best, Jerry